In the last decade, the Somali community in Canada witnessed an alarming rate of gun violence among Somali-Canadian young males. Since 2006 the media reported more than 50 cases in which Somali young men were murdered through gun violence in Calgary and Toronto (Livingstone, 2013). In the last three years, there was an escalating shootings and killings among Somali Canadian youth in Greater Toronto Area (Duncan, 2013). For example, in the summer of 2012, six Somali young men were killed in the 33 homicide shootings that happened in Toronto (Duncan, 2013). Moreover, in this year alone, four Somali Canadian young males were murdered in Toronto. In this research paper, I critically examine the sociological factors that may explain the escalating gun violence among Somali Canadian youth in Toronto.
There is no contemporary theory that can offer good explanation about the high rate of crime within ethnic communities in Canada (Ngo, et al., 2011). However, social-disorganization theory developed by the Chicago School’s Shaw and McKay can explain the correlation between crime and community structure in urban areas (Sampson & Groves, 1989). Social disorganization can be defined as the lack of community structure that can develop strategies to deal with social problems such as crime and youth violence (Sampson & Groves, 1989). Unlike other theories that explain the psychological conditions of young males who commit crime in urban areas, social disorganization theory posits that community structures and cultures explain the “differential rates of crime” among youth ethnic groups in urban areas (Sampson & Wilson, 1995, p.178).
Further, in their classical study to test social disorganization theory, Sampson and Groves (1989), found that “low socio economic status, ethnic heterogeneity, residential mobility, and family disruption” are the main variables that can be used to measure the level of social disorganization among communities in urban areas (p.774). Moreover, community disorganization caused by the socioeconomic context also mediate crime and youth violence among disorganized communities in urban areas because the lack of structural mechanisms and “formal and informal ties that promote to solve common problems” (Sampson & Groves, p.777, 1989).