When I think of “drug-related” violence, I think of crimes committed to obtain drugs. We see in the movies and on television children stealing items to sell for drugs, drug riddled addicts killing to get their next high or a gang war but not specific to drug trafficking and distribution. The lack of accurate coverage in our mass media on the true center of drug-related violence is disheartening. According to McQuail, “the study of mass media is based on the notion that the media has a significant effect on its audience” (Camarillo, Omar, 2021).
After reading the assigned chapters in the Chasing the Scream I was dumbfounded on my prior ignorance. It turned out 7.5 percent of the killings took place after a person took drugs and their behavior seemed to change. Some 2 percent were the result of addict trying to steal to feed their habit and it going wrong. And more than three quarters- the vast majority-were like Chino’s attacks. They weren’t caused by drugs, any more than AL Capone’s killings were caused by alcohol. They were, Goldstein showed, caused by prohibition (Hari, 2015, p.66). I believe if people were more aware of the actual statistics of drug-related violence they would be more open to changing the downcast stereotype of all addicts. I assume many people, as myself, have not witnessed or been a part of drug-related violence and take for granted the information we are receiving from mass media on the topic. If it were more widely publicized correctly that 75 percent of all drug-related violence was within the trafficking and distribution sector, it would most likely lessen the brutal stereotypes placed on all drug abusers.
Camarillo, Omar (2021) Who are Deemed the “Worthy” and “Unworthy” Victims of Mexico’s Drug-Related Violence?, Journal of Borderlands Studies, 36(1), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1080/08865655.2018.1471732
Hari, J. (2015). Chasing the scream: The first and last days of the war on drugs. Bloomsbury.