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December 18, 2017
By S. Callahan, Contributing Columnist

First, the statistics: We humans kill each other with breathtaking
frequency. We are mammals. However, other mammals only kill each
other much more rarely. Adding up all the varied reasons, say, that
would account for the death of a tiger, and you will find that only 0.3%
of such deaths would be caused by another tiger.   The same rate,
0.3%; would be the cause of death by a member of their species for all
other mammals, kangaroos, elephants, dogs, cats, lions, tigers and
bears, you name it.  

We alone, with other large primates such as gorillas, turn our killing
rage on each other.  We humans have a murder rate that is 7 times
higher than other mammals, around 2%.

That's the conclusion of every study that has looked at the issue,
notably the 2016 study from the Universidad de Granada in Spain
published in

Humans, according to the study's researchers, shared this trait of inter-
species violence with our ancestors and with apes. Looking at burial
sites of ancient humans, archaeologists have determined that the rates
of murder, again, averaged around 2%, in line with global murder rates
As the study noted, the 2% rate is "similar to the percentage
seen in prehistoric bands and tribes, indicating that we were as lethally
violent then as common mammalian evolutionary history would predict

Our Rate of Killing Has Increased

With the advent of more effective tools of destruction, the rate of
interspecies killing is climbing.

In the United States, for example, the increase in mass killings using
automated weapons has driven the murder rate up in certain cities to
those approaching war zones. In Chicago, the homicide rate was 18.6
per 100,000 people, more than twice the rate in New York (7 per
100,000 people).  For these reasons, Chicago's murder rate is now
considered a national emergency.

But if you think that Chicago's murder rate  is a national emergency,
then what do we make of the murder rate of St. Louis, which stands at
49.9 per 100,000 people, more than twice as much as Chicago (actually
2.68 times higher)?

And what do we make of Detroit, which also is twice as bad as Chicago
(43.5 murders per 100,000 people, 2.33 times higher than Chicago).

Men Are Overwhelmingly Responsible for Murders

There's a job for everything, and some people have the job of tracking
murders by gender. The U.S. Department of Justice has compiled
statistics for a 20-year period of all convicted murders in the country in
a report entitled "Homicide Trends in the United States -1980-2008". In
this report, men accounted for 90.5% of all convicted murderers in the
United States.

In addition, the FBI compiles annual statistics for crimes, noting many
characteristics of offenders, including gender. The reports, entitled
"Supplementary Homicide Reports" show that, the trends discovered in
the 20 years ending in 2008 have continued to the present, although
the peak rates of homicide were experienced in 1970, when the total
homicides surpassed 20,000 for the year.

Here are the reports findings, with respect to gender and age:

  • Males represented 77% of homicide victims and nearly 90% of off
    enders. The victimization rate for males (11.6 per 100,000) was 3
    times higher than the rate for females (3.4 per 100,000). Th e off
    ending rate for males (15.1 per 100,000) was almost 9 times
    higher than the rate for females (1.7 per 100,000)

  • Approximately a third (34%) of murder victims and almost half
    (49%) of the off enders were under age 25. For both victims and
    off enders, the rate per 100,000 peaked in the 18 to 24 year-old
    age group at 17.1 victims per 100,000 and 29.3 off enders per

Offices and Workplaces Are Killing Grounds

The studies have found that killings, where the victim is over 34 years
old, happen most often in the workplace.

For victims between the ages of 35 and 49, 33.5% of murderers
happened at the workplace. Another 26.3% were provoked by an

For victims 50 and older, 39.3% of the murders occurred at the
workplace and another 11.8% followed an argument.

What is striking is what this suggests about the killers. Men are highly
involved emotionally in jobs. Men also are more likely to kill in the midst
of an argument.

Men Are More Likely to Kill Women With Whom They Are Intimate

The report found that women were almost 6 times more likely than men
to have been killed by an intimate male (41.5% versus 7.1%).

Men handle separation worse than women and are more likely than
women to become violent as separation unfolds.

Studies have found, in fact, that the most dangerous time in a woman's
life is the period following an announcement of separation or divorce.

Men Tend to Kill Those of the Same Race

By and large, killers (male or female) don't kill people of other races.
The report found that 84% of white victims were killed by whites and  
93% of black victims were killed by blacks.

Men Kill Because We Are At Once Territorial and Social

To kill one-on-one, you need to be close to the victim? You also need a
reason to kill (unless you fall within the rare sliver of people who kill
for no reason).  We humans have both --- opportunity and motive.

The opportunity to kill occurs because humans, like other primates, are
naturally social. We live naturally in groups. We developed high
capacity for language, which enables communication and social
bonding. We are wired to thrive on social interaction, which is why
being denied this interaction, such as in prison settings, is itself a
psychological punishment.

Then, we also have motive. Wars are fought over territory. In
neighborhoods, fights erupt over property lines. In work places, battles
ensue over projects and rewards. We humans are built to stake our
territory and to defend it at all costs. That property is mine. That job is
mine. That woman is mine.

Territoriality is a fundamental trait wired into us since prehistoric times.
We survived as a species by finding homes in caves or on parts of the
tundra, building boundaries and then fighting off intruders.

It should not really surprise us, then, that men fight and kill most often
in the arenas of the workplace, the arenas of loss of relationships and
after arguments.

These are the primal, ancient motives for killing that continue to fuel
conflict and killings by men.  

It's ineffective to just tell ourselves to "calm down".  It's ineffective to
focus only on the perpretrator. The only strategy likely to work in
reducing the numbers of workplace killings is to recognize when men
have been pushed to defend their territories.

This would mean training supervisors to recognize when a man has
gone so far as to "mark" a territory and to engage the man to help him
understand if in fact that territory was wrongly claimed as his.

To be specific, identify instances where a man is passed over for a
promotion, removed from a project, or otherwise devalued as a
potential violence-provoking instance. Of course, not all men are going
to "go off" in these circumstances. But recognizing the potential will go
a long way toward modifying how decisions which shift territories are

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Men are over 90% of murderers.