Does remote learning play role in crime surge?

AP Photo/Denis Poroy

The current surge in crime, especially violent crime, is a problem all across the nation.

People from across the political spectrum have speculated on just why the crime surge is happening, though we’re really no closer to actual answers.

However, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has an interesting theory. She blames remote learning.

Chicago is one of the major cities that has seen an increase in carjackings. I wrote about Washington D.C. stats showing it has at least one carjacking a day.

The Chicago Police Department will expand its carjacking force along with “more cameras and license plate readers” in the city to combat the crime.

Lightfoot took it a step further, though. She blamed remote learning on the carjacking crisis:

“We are seeing an inordinate number of juveniles that are the perpetrators of these carjackings. I think in Chicago we have consistently seen 50% or higher of the people that we are arresting are juveniles,” Lightfoot told reporters.

“We started seeing this rise in cases in 2020. And I’ll be frank and say in Chicago there was a correlation we believe between remote learning and the rise in carjackings,” she added. “Having talked to state attorneys who are dealing with these cases in juvenile court and others, a lot of parents went to work during the day thinking their teenagers were logged on for remote learning, only to find something else. And I ask, ‘Is there some new market for stolen cars?’ And unfortunately the answer was no — that for many of these kids, some of whom had no prior involvement in the criminal justice system, this was pure boredom.”

It’s an interesting theory.

Chicago Public Schools have been very quick to jump to remote learning due to pressure from the teacher’s union there, which means kids are home a whole lot more.

Plus, as the above-linked article notes, a lot of the problems we’re seeing with things like car jacking do seem to be because of juvenile offenders.

Now, let’s be clear, I don’t think there’s one thing that caused all of this. For the kind of crime surge we’ve seen to be the result of a single cause, it would have to be something like 95 percent of the police in this country to quit en masse.

But I do think remote learning may make it easier for kids to skip classes and for a variety of reasons. Plus, with remote learning, teachers don’t see students in the halls, so they don’t know who is out for the day or who skipped fourth period.

That creates opportunities for mischief or worse.

While I’m sure most kids who skip English aren’t part of any crime surge, there are some who are. Remote learning is probably making it a bit easier.

I’m not sure the end of remote learning will change all that much, though. After all, kids who are inclined to skip class will still skip class. If they’re also included to take up carjacking as an extracurricular activity, they’re likely going to keep doing that too.

But I may well be wrong. Much of this problem didn’t happen until after remote learning became the norm, so I rule nothing out.

Lightfoot may have gotten this one right.