The Grapevine

3 Tips To Stay Safe This Summer; As Temperatures Heat Up, So Do Crime Rates, Experts Warn

Summer might be the time for vacations and skipping out on work to start the weekend early, but the season ushers in more than just beach trips. According to years of research, the warmer weather also brings an increase in certain types of crime.

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“Jack Frost is the policeman's best friend,” said David Michael White, professor at the City University of New York John Jay College of Criminal Justice. White also serves as the Director of Seton Hall University School of Law’s Conflict Management Program. “Rising temperatures directly correlate to a spike in the violent Index Crimes, particularly murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Criminologists and law enforcement professionals attribute this empirically verified phenomenon to a simple reality.”

Theories about what causes this unsettling phenomenon vary, but some believe it’s simply because people are out of their homes more.

gun-2227646_1920 Experts warn that protecting yourself, and your home against burglaries, is especially vital during the summer. Pixabay

"Winter weather keeps people safely ensconced in their homes. By contrast, conditions in June, July, and August draw individuals outside and into contact with others. As the mercury rises, tempers flare,” White  said. “When hot heads collide in hot weather, seemingly minor disputes rapidly escalate to major - sometimes deadly - conflict."  

This link between violence and weather is known as the heat hypothesis, which states that hot temperatures can lead to more aggressive behavior. According to the research paper Heat and Violence, southern states are typically plagued with higher crime rates compared to cooler regions.

It’s easy to think of crime as random incidents between strangers, but data shows that domestic disputes also increase this time of year. According to a report by the United States Department of Justice, violence between partners regularly fluctuates and is highest during the summer and lowest when it’s cold.  “Compared to the summer, intimate partner violence was about 12 percent lower in the winter, 6 percent lower in the spring, and 9 percent lower in the fall,” write the report authors.

“Strife can occur just as easily among neighbors on stoops as among short-tempered strangers in one-off encounters,” explained White. Summer might be more dangerous, but you can avoid being a victim. Here are three ways White recommends surviving the summer crime-free.

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Be Aware

“High heat and humidity does not justify a mental vacation,” White cautioned. He advises taking notice of your surroundings and coming up with a plan in case things get heated. “ In life-and-death scenarios, seconds spell survival, he said.

Know The Roots Of Conflict

According to White, we each carry what he calls the anger bucket. It’s filled with unfulfilled hopes, dreams and failures, which can seem empty on some days while it spills over the next. This unpredictable set of emotions can go off at any minute, which is where White believes the trouble begins. While you don’t want to go around looking for trouble, the professor says to recognize that it can, and will, pop up.  

Be Lowkey

Social media updates expose vulnerability to your friends,” White said. While it’s natural to share news about your brand new TV or summer trip to Spain, the crime expert believes it’s best to share selectively and always save your dreamy beach photos as #latergrams.  

See Also:

Yes, You Really Are More Cranky In The Summer, According To Science

Why We Crave Certain Foods In The Summer, As Explained By Dietitians​

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