Murder is contagious and may spread like the flu, new research suggests.
The researchers relied on the same techniques public-health officials use to track the spread of diseases, but applied them to the spread of homicide in Newark, N.J., over a 26-year span from 1982 to 2008.
And just as in other epidemics, certain neighborhoods were more susceptible than others. Diverse, immigrant-rich communities looked to be protected against homicide’s spread in the research, while the poorest neighborhoods were more vulnerable. These findings suggest communities could inoculate themselves against murder waves by addressing the underlying risk factors, said study co-author April Zeoli, a criminal justice researcher at Michigan State University.
“People speak about violence, crime and homicide as being contagious. The idea is that violence begets violence,” Zeoli told LiveScience. [The History of Human Aggression]