Getting into Crime and Violence
Everyone's life has its ups and downs, traumas, losses, and sadness. Almost all children have some trouble with their families, schools, and peers. This chapter presents information on some women who experienced early childhood sexual and physical abuse as well as losses of significant others from premature deaths, alcoholism, mortal violence, and incarceration; these women witnessed, daily, the ravages of growing up in communities that lacked prospects for productive futures. In severely distressed communities, it appears that a system of values emerges in which violence is not vigorously condemned and is often expected as a routine part of everyday life. The women describe their neighborhoods and their experiences in schools, in their families, among peers, and with their initiation into drugs. The decisions these women made about their lives—whether to invest in schooling or vocational training or whether to seek income through legitimate work or crime—did not develop in a vacuum.