This City in Virginia Has Been Named the Most Dangerous City to Live


Virginia is known for its rich history, beautiful scenery, and diverse culture, yet also faces severe issues such as poverty, inequality, and crime. Some areas in the state suffer these difficulties more keenly than others, with Portsmouth appearing as the most dangerous city in Virginia, according to sources such as FBI crime statistics and the health portal PlushCare.

The Situation in Portsmouth

Portsmouth, with a population of around 98,000, is Virginia’s ninth-largest city and dates back to 1752. The city is known for its naval and nautical heritage, which is anchored by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. It also has a thriving cultural scene. However, its dark side is obvious in increased crime rates.

In 2020, FBI crime data indicated that Portsmouth had the highest violent crime rate in Virginia, with 875 incidences per 100,000 residents—more than three times the state average. Property crime rates were similarly frightening, surpassing the state average by more than double. PlushCare ranks Portsmouth’s total crime rate as the tenth worst in the country.

Contributing Factors

Portsmouth’s high crime rates stem from a complex interaction of factors:

  • Poverty affects 18% of the population, which is much higher than the state average of 10%.
    Low educational attainment: Approximately 20% do not have a high school diploma, compared to the state average of 12%, affecting employment and income.
  • Racial and socioeconomic Disparities: With a largely African American population (54%), compared to the state average of 20%, socioeconomic class and racial dynamics influence crime.
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse: High rates of drug use disorders in the population are associated with greater crime rates.

Implications Beyond Portsmouth.

Portsmouth’s high crime rates have far-reaching consequences for the economy, society, and the environment.

  • Economic Impact: Crime reduces productivity, inhibits corporate investment, and boosts transaction costs, lowering the city and state’s competitiveness.
  • Security Concerns: Public safety is jeopardized, causing heightened fear and distrust, straining law enforcement, and testing the judicial system.
  • Health and Well-being: Crime harms the physical and emotional health of victims, offenders, and the community, increasing stress and trauma.
  • Environmental consequences: Crime causes pollution and environmental damage, aggravating climate change and natural disasters.

Addressing Challenges

Addressing Portsmouth’s difficulties requires joint efforts.

  • Root Causes: Addressing poverty, school gaps, racial inequities, and substance misuse needs policies and programs that combat inequality and injustice.
  • Prevention and interventions: Strengthening surveillance, giving alternatives to potential criminals, and modifying rehabilitation all help to reduce crime.
  • Public Involvement: It is critical to raise public knowledge and involvement through education, reporting, and civic participation.
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