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What to Know if You're Considering Studying Criminal Justice

by Jared Newnam
November 16, 2016

Keeping our communities and our country safe is a key focus of everyone in criminal justice. Of course, what that looks like in practice depends on the career you pursue and whether it’s in law enforcement, correction, politics, or law. Across the board, however, a few things hold true for those exploring a bachelor’s or master’s degree in criminal justice.

Education and Experience Can Help You Stand Out

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), numerous careers in criminal justice may see 4% job growth in the coming years. This includes, Detectives and Criminal Investigators and Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists. Others, like Private Detectives and Investigators, Bailiffs, and Police Patrol Officers, will experience an average growth rate around 5% to 8%.

As with any job and depending on location, applicants may face competition for desirable positions. (Median annual salary for criminal justice roles mentioned above ranges from $41,000 to over $77,000.) The BLS especially anticipates strong competition for Private Detective and Investigator roles.

In competitive job situations, a candidate with a criminal justice degree and work experience may be most likely to catch the eye of a potential employer. For example, for Police and Detective positions, the BLS says that “applicants with a bachelor's degree and law enforcement or military experience, especially investigative experience, as well as those who speak more than one language, should have the best job opportunities.” For Probation Officer and Corrections positions, as well as employment within federal agencies, a bachelor’s degree is often required.

Technology is Increasingly Important across Professions

If you’ve been researching or studying criminal justice online, you likely know that technology has a drastic impact on the field.

On one side, there’s an array of valuable technologies. These take many forms, including connected database systems, automated license plate readers, and handheld biometric scanners used to identify suspects. In some locations, criminal justice workers currently carry tablets and smartphones that make it easier to access and distribute information. Such tools will only improve in the years to come.

Criminal justice professions under increasing scrutiny are also turning to technology like social media to build trust and demonstrate transparency in their communities. Although privacy concerns are still being debated, GPS systems and body cameras are also being introduced to support both safety and accountability in criminal justice professions.

Meanwhile, others apply technology for harm, with the The Department of Justice describing cyber crime as "one of the greatest threats facing our country" and Business Insider reporting that “the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks are at an all-time high.” When it comes to jobs, cyber crime is driving employment trends, with the BLS noting that “Internet scams, as well as other types of financial and insurance fraud, create demand for investigative services.” Such crimes are expected to continue at local, national and even global levels.

What to Look for in Criminal Justice Programs

While we’ve already noted that a criminal justice degree can help when applying for jobs, it’s also essential that students select the right program.

Your criminal justice degree program level (bachelor’s, master’s, etc.) will determine program length and curriculum, but all criminal justice degrees should share some foundational elements. First, anyone considering criminal justice courses or comparing criminal justice curriculums should look for programs that explore the importance of technology in this field. Equally valuable are criminal justice courses that address ethics and topics related to race, class, and gender. Finally, soft skills like leadership, problem-solving, communication, and conflict resolution should also be taught throughout a criminal justice curriculum.

Whether you prefer studying criminal justice online or on-campus, South University offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice that can prepare you for working in today’s changing field. Explore our criminal justice programs online or contact us today to learn more.

by Jared Newnam
November 16, 2016
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Sexual Assault Awareness Month: How to Be Part of the Solution

by South University
April 17, 2013

April was officially dedicated to the eradication of sexual violence in 2001, with the goal of educating both individuals and communities on how to raise awareness and participate in prevention and advocacy efforts. However, by 2001, the month had been known for advocacy activities for more than a decade, starting with Take Back the Night marches and the establishment of Sexual Assault Awareness Week in the 1980s. In 2001, The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and Resource Sharing Project (RSP) took leading roles in expanding the awareness campaign to a full month.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month logo

Recognize the Problem

Sexual violence is a serious problem in society and one that is sometimes overlooked or misunderstood. Thankfully with programs such as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, attitudes are changing. Each year, the month selects a campaign on which to focus, with the 2013 campaign focused on preventing child abuse.

While the majority of victims aren’t children, it is the attitudes we develop at these ages that mold our responses to threats as an adult. Sexual Assault Awareness Month asks groups and individuals to address these issues both with kids and parents. By focusing on teaching safe, healthy behaviors and attitudes to these populations, we can maximize our advocacy efforts.

Talk About It, Early and Often

Talk Early, Talk Often

Preventing abuse often starts with education. As adults, it’s important to talk to children about setting boundaries and their right to privacy. Adults should also allow children to make their own decisions about showing affection. For example, children should decide whether they prefer to give a high five or handshake instead of a hug. As an adult, you can teach children polite ways of refusing kisses, hugs and other forms of affection they may not be comfortable receiving. Assault survivors often lament staying in dangerous situations out of fear they might overreact and hurt someone else’s feelings. Thus, teach children to respect their instincts and their right (as well as everyone else’s right) to privacy and control over their bodies.

Parents and adults should also allow for open communication with children and honestly answer questions as they arise. A child who feels scared to talk about these issues faces another obstacle to seeking help. Adults should also learn the warning signs of abuse, and be prepared to speak out when needed. Although it can be difficult to speak up, especially if the adult is someone you know, you should always report suspected abuse to the police, child protective service or a local or national hotline.


by South University
April 17, 2013
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Social Networks Triggering High Cyber Crime Levels

by South University
December 17, 2012

Cyber criminals are increasing at a distressing rate, courtesy of social networks. This is according to a report filed by the US security company, Imperva. The company has a detailed analysis on how cyber crime has advanced. In reference to the ‘Monitoring Hacker Forums’ report, modern cyber criminals deal with hacking more than ever.

During the case study, Imperva analyzed major hacker forums that included sites with large numbers of subscribers, as many as 250,000. The company was able to determine and undoubtedly decipher the current threats and methods used by the notorious hackers. It was also discovered that DDoS and SQL injections are the most compromised hotspots. There are two main ways through which these crimes are committed.

Black market
Cyber criminals love sites that have a large number of subscribers, such as Facebook. With over 1 billion users, Facebook has become one of the most targeted areas for committing cyber crime. Twitter follows at a close range. The criminals use these platforms for black market purposes, where all illegal activities such as impersonation are done. Malware is also easily spread in fast speeds via the social network. The cyber criminals create fake accounts with illegitimate products, faking ‘likes,’ ’comments,’ and ‘follows.’ Subscribers end up falling prey due to building trust in the alleged large following.

Cyber Personalities
Beginner cyber criminals make easy money selling pornographic material. Cyber criminals impersonate people, attracting a large number of buyers. They end up making money by using disguised personalities, usually females, to sell pornographic content. Men pose as women by creating profiles with female photos. They then ask unsuspecting social network users to click on a link. However, these users end up clicking links and signing up in the advised sites, only blindly and unwillingly helping the criminal make money. There were more than 13,000 threads on this kind of activity in just one forum.

The study also indicates more popular attack methods that unsuspecting Internet and social media users fall for. The following five are the trendiest at the moment.

  1. Data-flooding DDoS campaigns
  2. Spam
  3. SQL injections
  4. Shell code
  5. Brute-force attacks

The CTO of Imperva, Amichai Shulman, advised organizations to keenly focus on SQL injection security because cyber criminals are taking advantage of the minimal security measures that have been put in place. He warned that should organizations fail to put in place the necessary measures, hackers will definitely place more focus on SQL injection attacks.

From this study, it is noted that as of 2012, cyber crime is more advanced and if proper measures are not installed, then genuine people will lose a lot. Everyone should read case studies especially on hacker forums so as to know what the hackers are looking for and ensuring that security is enhanced. Studying the forums equips us with the necessary knowledge on the hackers’ strategy hence plan an effectual counterattack.

by South University
December 17, 2012
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Violent Crime Statistics Lowest in a Decade

by South University
November 12, 2012

Statistics show that violent crime is lower than it has been for the past decade. In 2011, violent crime incidents — murder, robbery, aggravated assault and forcible rape — fell for the fifth consecutive year.

Though violent crime is declining, the FBI said that it is still a serious problem in many urban areas. To name just two, Chicago had 431 murders and New York had 514 murders. Nationwide, in 2011, there were over 1.2 million violent crimes, down 3.8 percent from 2010. Property crime dropped a half percent from 2010 to 2011.

According to CNN, the statistics broke down the following crimes as follows:

  • Murders were down 0.7 percent in 2011 from 2010
  • Robberies were down 4 percent in 2011 from 2010
  • Aggravated assaults were down 3.9 percent in 2011 from 2010
  • Forcible rapes were down 2.5 percent in 2011 from 2010

CNN also reported that urban areas still saw serious problems because of drugs, poverty and gangs. Even with the positive trend over the past decade, there were still 14,612 murders across the United States during 2011, which is about one murder every 36 minutes. In 2010, there were 14,722 murders. The numbers from 2011 showed a decrease in murders from ten years ago.

According to CNN, most of the murder victims were males. It is unknown exactly how many murders occurred for each race, but of the known information, 50 percent of the victims were black and 46 percent were white.

As for weapons, guns were involved in two-thirds of the murders in 2011. Twenty-one percent of aggravated assaults involved guns, and 41 percent of robberies involved guns. Despite the positive trend, crime remains a serious problem in many urban pockets riddled with gangs, drugs and poverty.

CNN stated that criminologists have pointed to several factors for an explanation of the decrease in crime, including an increase in incarcerations, a “more settled” crack cocaine market and a population that is aging. The media source also stated that data-driving policing and in increase in surveillance/security cameras contributed to the decrease in crime.

However, a criminologist at Northeastern University stated that though crime is declining, it is declining as a slower rate this year than it has in past years. The criminologist calls it a “limbo stick effect,” and states that crime will never get down to zero.

by South University
November 12, 2012
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