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Alcohol & Violence

March 24, 2010

Neighborhoods with a high density of places to buy alcohol also tend to have higher rates of violent crime.


Alcohol and assaults…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Neighborhoods with a high density of establishments that sell alcohol are associated with higher rates of assault, according to a recent study conducted in Cincinnati, Ohio. Criminologist William Pridemore of Indiana University says that while the density of bars and restaurants was correlated with violence, off-premise alcohol outlets such as convenience stores showed the strongest association.

WILLIAM PRIDEMORE (Indiana University):
There’s more social control in bars, you have management, you have bouncers, whose job it is to keep any aggression under control, and you just have bystanders who might step in. and maybe break up a fight before it gets more serious. Whereas with the off-premise outlets, you don’t have as much of this type of informal social control.

Pridemore says most people who get into arguments in such settings probably don’t plan on resorting to violence, but that alcohol may help lower their inhibitions. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.