Is a white collar crime more harmful than a traditional street level crimeIs a white collar crime more harmful than a traditional street level crime

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is, of course, a matter of opinion.  You can argue it either way.

On the one hand, white collar crime tends to be much more economically harmful than "traditional street level crime."  A mugger or a burglar could never hope to steal as much money as a Bernie Madoff did.  White collar criminals, then, can typically get much more money than street criminals.

On the other hand, you can look at it in terms of trauma to the victims.  A mugging (even a relatively nonviolent one) can leave the victim shaken and afraid.  So can a burglary.  These crimes hit people in a much more personal way than white collar crimes do.

Thus, the answer really depends on what sort of damage (economic or physical and psychological) you think is more important.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

White collar crime is sometimes much more devastating to people than street crimes.  Consider the many people destroyed by Bernie Madoff's Panzi schemes; consider the companies ruined and the thousands injured by computer hackers who have stolen from people their security and sometimes their very identity. Just because physical damage is not done to people does not mean that people are not going to die from white collar crimes--often they commit suicide after being financially ruined.  There is a magnitude to white collar crime that sometimes surpasses the isolated murder or gang fight.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would agree that this questions would differ for different people.

White collar crime could hurt a person's pocketbook, but the emotional trauma would (most likely) be limited (unless a person's character is attacked). Outside of that, traditional street level crimes impact people on a much more emotional way. Traditional street crimes involve violent attacks against a person, invading a person's home, and even murders. These crimes carry a far more emotional impact than those found in the white collar world.

megan-bright eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm sure there are some white collar crimes that do lead to violence and murder. I believe that the negative and damaging effects of white collar crimes take much longer to appear, and will affect a select few people depending on what the crime is. With street level crime, any innocent person can be an immediate victim. And the effects will be witnessed by many people.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

White collar crime can result in the loss of a great deal of money, but street level crime can often result in the loss of lives and/or in serious bodily injury. This is probably why so much more emphasis is placed, by law enforcement, on street crime than on white collar crime.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I think both types of crime can be harmful, but to different groups. Street crime affects more people directly, whereas white collar crime only affects specific groups of people. Art theft would only affect the rich, whereas mortgage fraud would only affect homeowners.