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Social Problems: Exploring the Main Types


A social problem is a condition considered by some members who live in a particular community as being undesirable. The big population generally agrees about some social problems, such as murders and robbery. Other social problems are viewed differently, dependent on the different groups of people in a society (Chiricos, 2006). An example is; teenagers who play loud music at home, their parents and other people (especially the more advanced in age) may consider it an undesirable social condition.

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A construct in the context of social problems can hence be a social issue that is a direct or indirect result of social human activity, either individual or group work. There are four main social problems; crime, violence, drug abuse, and environmental problems. The other social problems are very closely related to the above.


A crime is the deviant breach of rules and laws for which some governing authority (through institutions like the police power) ultimately prescribes a conviction and some form of punishment (Chiricos, 2006, p. 6). All societies have there different ways of describing crime in diverse ways. Whilst every offense violates the law, not every offense is considered a crime. For instance, violation of civil laws is seen as “an infraction” or as “an offense”.

Crime can be classified into two categories; violent and non-violent.

Non-violent crime does not involve the use of force or violence to achieve the intended results. Most of these crimes are hence categorized as offenses or infractions. Common amongst non-violent crimes are; cybercrime and fraud.

Cybercrime is also called computer crime. In this case, the offender uses computers and the internet as his or her means to steal money or a person’s identity. Cybercrimes comprise rather prestigious violations, especially those surrounding hacking, official document violation, and infant pornography. Confidential information and data can be lost or intercepted, lawfully or otherwise, using the internet, this is identity theft.

Computer felony comprises a wide variety of potentially unlawful actions. Generally, it is divided into two categories: crimes that directly target computer networks or devices and crimes facilitated by computer networks or devices, the primary target here is independent of the computer network or device (Chiricos, 2006). Cybercriminals are undeterred by the prospects of arrest and prosecution; they lurk on the Net as an ever-present menace to the financial health of businesses, customers’ trust, and an emerging threat to nations’ security.

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When it comes to violent crime, this is very diverse; robbery and rape are the most common. Rape is when the victim is forced to has involuntary sexual intercourse and has happened to both men and women of any age. In most cases, rape is not sex but power. Mainly, a rapist uses verbal intimidation, violent force or a combination of both to have mental and physical control over his or her victim. Rape is a crime, as long as it is forced and involuntary. It does not matter if the person who committed it is known to the victim (a family member a date, or an acquaintance), or a stranger (McConnell International LLC, 2000). Women and children are most vulnerable and are often endangered in the places where or with people whom they should be safest with: within their families. Most of these victims are faced with terror at a place they should be assured of their own security, home. The victims of rape suffer both body and mental torture. Usually, the victims do not speak out about the attacks because they are often facing threats. This is a denial of human rights and their lives endangered by the ever-present threat of violence (McConnell International LLC, 2000).

Robbery is seen as a crime, the violent taking of one’s property, through intimidation, violently or the use of both, as compared to fraud often considered as theft, which is ‘more acceptable’. Robbery is dissimilar from easy theft since the criminal uses aggression and bullying. In most countries, robbery with violence is considered a capital offense and its punishment severe. Even though the death sentence has been abolished in many countries, capital offenders are faced with another form of maximum sentence, life imprisonment


Violence is the expression of physical or verbal force against self or another. Violence is used world-over as a means to manipulate. This makes it a source of concern for both state laws and societal cultures that make efforts to either suppress or stop it. It differs from being a physical assault amid two inhabitants where a minor wound may direct to the conflict that may to genocides where millions pass away as the end result. Violence is classified into three categories; Self-directed violence, Interpersonal violence and Collective violence (World Health Organization, 2010). Self-directed violence is popular among adolescents but not restricted to this age group. “A variety of stressful events or circumstances can put people at increased risk of harming themselves including the loss of loved ones, interpersonal conflicts with family or friends and legal or work-related problems” (p. 4)

Interpersonal violence is inclusive of child abuse, violence between intimate partners and sexual violence. It occurs in our homes and places often considered public (on the streets, in the workplace and in learning institutions). In 2000, homicides as a result of interpersonal violence totaled a staggering 520 000 deaths (World Health Organization, 2009). Interpersonal violence victims mostly think and feel they deserve this kind of treatment because the abusers brainwash them too, often verbally. In reaction to this, non-governmental organizations, governments and communities are vigorously attempting to avoid interpersonal aggression, by providing monetary, mechanical and policy support to the victims.

Collective violence in most cases manifests as wars. When two or more separate socio-political entities engage in organized violent conflict, it is said that they have declared war on each other. This is an intentional and widespread-armed conflict between social communities (World Report on Violence and Health, 2009). The impact of combined aggression on health in terms of deaths, physical illnesses, disabilities and mental suffering, is enormous.

Drug abuse

This can be defined as the excessive in-take or reliance on a psychoactive drug that has a non-therapeutic non-medical effect. Alcohol is the most abused drug. Most drug abusers quickly evolve into drug addicts, often characterized by unemployment, poor hygiene, and lack of motivation in life and petty theft to sustain their addictions.

Teenagers are more easily addicted to drugs than grown-ups are. Adult family members are often unaware of drug abuse in the family (McConnell International LLC, 2000). Teenage drug abuse has become a rather thorny issue for many families, due to the high number of teenagers who are abusing drugs and the severity of drug abuse-related consequences. Understanding addiction as a problem that needs medical advice is the most important step towards beating the problem. Rehabilitation is, therefore, a lifelong commitment and is vital to be supported by one’s family.

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Drug abuse and addiction are often viewed as the abuser’s problem to deal with solely. This is mainly because most cultures worldwide place a high value on individuality.

Environmental problems

Environmental problems are a direct result of irresponsible social practices targeted towards the environment. It is the direct consequence of the interaction between socio-economic and institutional technological activities. Economic growth, rising energy use, population growth, agriculture intensification, transportation and urbanization are the main factors that are directly contributing to environmental problems that the earth faces (McConnell International LLC, 2000).

Yearly, the leader of the United States of America lectures the United States Congress outlining the annual governmental plan in the State of the Union. The address information on the state of the nation and allows the leader to sketch his lawmaking schedule and nationwide priorities to the legislature.

United States Capitol is the venue for the annual address. Obama, been the United States of America’s president gave his speech on January 27, 2010, to a joint session of Congress. In his speech, the president pointed the need to build clean energy facilities. This is aimed at cutting back on environmental pollution.

He outlined that this would be achieved by building nuclear power plants, exploring off-shore areas for oil and gas, investing in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies, comprehensive energy and climate bill to make clean energy profitable.

The president also proposed tackling childhood obesity; this is to be headed by the first lady, Michelle Obama. Health professionals have described obesity as a nationwide pandemic. About nine million kids are affected (Chiricos, 2006). Lifestyle factors and a child’s eating habits determine if a child is obese or not. Children who are not supervised by adults at mealtime are subjected to take foods that are high in fats and sugar levels. This will most likely lead to obesity if the child’s lifestyle includes watching TV, playing computer games and chatting online, instead of outdoor activities and games.


So as to reach maximum numbers of young people, school-based interventions are important. School staff cannot replace mental health professionals, but they can be trained to identify the signs and symptoms of self-directed violence and offer appropriate guidance and counseling (Chiricos, 2006). Victims of interpersonal violence must not suffer in silence but instead reach to the various organizations ready and willing to help them. They should also encourage their perpetrators to seek help. This in turn will save so many lives.

To minimize victims and casualties of collective violence, governments should seek to address socio-political issues and problems before they escalate out of control.

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Humankind must practice responsible behavior towards one another and the environment.

In his speech, the president acknowledges the need for behavioral, attitude and practices change by the American government towards the environment. Governments should hence reinforce and encourage their citizenry to observe the rules and regulations that govern crime, violence, drug abuse and environmental problems. Individuals should also strive to be responsible citizens, looking out for each other through community crime security watch, refrain from violence, and avoid drug abuse and responsible environmental practices. With most areas of the planet under threat from global warming, individuals and governments alike should practice eco-friendly mass of production goods.


Chiricos, T. (2006). What is a social problem? Project legal’s public policy analyst. Web.

McConnell International LLC (2000). Cyber Crime and Punishment. Archaic Laws Threaten Global Information. Web.

World Health Organization. (2010). Types of Violence, Web.

World Report on Violence and Health. (2009).Collective violence. Web.

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