Is the World Becoming More Violent?

Tommy ZhouMarch 6, 2023Violence and HealingFeatures

Artwork by Claudia Romero, age 15

Browsing newspapers, people can easily obtain information from every corner of the world.

Apart from the pandemic that has been prevalent in recent years, the war between Russia and Ukraine, global food shortage, and high inflation have been major issues haunting peoples’ minds. All of these make people wonder, “Is our world becoming less stable and more violent?” To be frank, there is no conclusive evidence one way or another. Given the development of technologies, online abuses occur more frequently, and the news spreads much faster than it did before, so people may regard the world as more violent. However, there are limitations to this argument which may not lead to the same conclusion, such as the calculation of relative figures and lack of records in the past. Ultimately, it is extremely hard to explicitly determine whether the world is becoming more violent or not.

When considering the evidence for supporting the argument, the role of technology seems inevitable and significant. Technology has skyrocketed in the last century, and so the forms of violence are changing from physical conflict to online abuse. Nowadays, due to the widespread use of the internet, people can easily express their views and oppose the views of others. This allows people to attack others online at their will (and sometimes anonymously) without considering the consequences. This creates a novel form of violence – cyber bullying. According to the data presented by the Cyberbullying Research Center, the percentage of cyberbullying victimization rates have increased from 18.8% in 2007 to 45.5% in 2021, with an average rate of 29.3%. Google Search trends also show that the volume of worldwide searches for “cyberbullying” increased threefold since 2004. This demonstrates that as our technology becomes more diverse and mature, it is inevitable that the method of violence is constantly shifting. While physical abuses remain, the addition of online violence makes people feel the world is becoming more violent.

Additionally, the consequences of online violence are undeniable. It can cause tremendous damage to teenagers’ mental health, resulting in depression and low self-esteem. According to a research conducted by Pew Research Center, the total number of teenagers who recently experienced depression increased 59% from 2007 to 2017. The damages caused by cyberbullying are potentially more long-lasting than those caused by physical violence. Cyberbullying may not affect teenagers immediately, but it can gradually undermine their confidence and cause depression. For many teenagers, it seems like the world is becoming more violent because they can feel the damage profoundly. Therefore, the growth rate of online violence and depression may explain the growth rate of teenagers’ suicides in the last decades, which increased nearly 60% between 2007 and 2018 in people aged 10 to 24, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adolescents who experienced cyberbullying victimization were 2.07 times more likely to have depressive symptoms compared to those who did not experience cyberbullying victimization. This data is significant because it helps explain both the explicit and implicit impacts online violence has on teenagers, which makes the world seem more violent.

Apart from online bullying, technology also amplifies the range and depth of the press, which makes the world seem more violent. In the past, civilians could gather information from local news but often did not have the opportunity to uncover news outside their region. Because the sources of information were limited, many incidents of violence were not revealed to those readers. Thus, if their surroundings were secure, many people regarded the world as a safe place. Today, due to the progress of technology, any news organization can report current events from any country in the world, including violent incidents such as terrorist attacks. This reduces the distance between people and those events and makes them think that the world is becoming more and more violent.

Since the reason for violence nowadays is more manifold, it seems as though violence happens more frequently. In the past, violent events like wars were essentially fought for land, labor force, food, and religious reasons. According to the National Geographic Society, ancient civilizations launched wars in an effort to acquire glory, power, land resources, and territory. Nowadays, wars still exist, but they are no longer limited to physical combat. Instead, they have transformed into different types of conflict, such as trade wars and technology wars, like the trade war between China and America for example. Furthermore, contemporary countries often start wars over different resources, such as raw materials and space substances.

However, there are some limitations to this argument that need to be considered, such as the lack of data caused by the absence of technology in the past, and the use of relative figures and absolute figures.

Due to the lack of technology to record every crime in the past, the number of violent crimes may be underestimated. According to an article published by ABC news, wars around the world have killed three times more people over the past half-century than previously estimated. This may lead us to the conclusion that the world in the past was not as peaceful as we thought, and perhaps was more violent than it is today. For instance, in Bangladesh’s struggle for independence, previous studies estimated that around 58,000 people died, while a new study presented a number closer to 269,000. This is only one example of casualties being underestimated. Especially in distant history, such as in ancient Babylon or Greece, accurate violence or casualties are even more difficult to assess. In addition, the government may suppress the number of casualties or incidents of crimes in the past. Therefore, the violence in the past is often underestimated, which makes it hard for historians to decide whether the past was more violent than today or not.

Another factor that makes it hard for historians to assess the degree of violence is the presence of absolute figures and relative figures. Since the global population is constantly growing, the death of 100 people today represents a different percentage of the total population, although the absolute figure is the same. For example, in 1600, the population worldwide was 554 million people. If 100 million were killed in a war, then it would be 1/5 of the total census. However, if the same amount of people were killed currently, it would be less than 1/70 of the total population. When considering relative figures, it seems that the world is less violent today because the percentage of deaths compared to the total population is lower. But in fact, the number of casualties is the same, which makes it difficult to assess which one is more violent.

In conclusion, considering all the aspects to assess the degree of violence, it is nearly impossible to determine the answer for the vast and complex question “Is our world becoming more violent or not?” Since there is relatively persuasive and insightful evidence and ideas for both sides, it is necessary for the readers to decide the bias of the scale in their own minds.


Why human society isn't more-or less-violent than in the past (no date) Science. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Bellamy, P.A. (2021) Are we really becoming more peaceful – or does violence come in cycles?, Are we getting less violent and can we achieve world peace? | BBC Science Focus Magazine. BBC Science Focus Magazine. Available at: December 17, 2022).

O'Neill, A. (2022) Global population 10,000BCE-2100, Statista. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Violence quotes (2007 quotes) (no date) Goodreads. Goodreads. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Fisher, M. (2022) Is the world really falling apart, or does it just feel that way?, The New York Times. The New York Times. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Cyberbullying statistics 2022 (with charts): 36 "key" facts (2022) FirstSiteGuide. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Atske, S. (2022) A majority of teens have experienced some form of cyberbullying, Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. Pew Research Center. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Cyberbullying statistics and facts for 2022 (2022) Comparitech. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Patchin, J.W. (no date) Summary of our cyberbullying research (2004-2022), Cyberbullying Research Center. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Geiger, A.W. and Davis, L. (2020) A growing number of American teenagers – particularly girls – are facing depression, Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Dastagir, A.E. (2020) More young people are dying by suicide, and experts aren't sure why, USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Teen suicide (2021) Child Trends. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Maurya, C. et al. (2022) The effects of cyberbullying victimization on depression and suicidal ideation among adolescents and young adults: A three year cohort study from India - BMC Psychiatry, BioMed Central. BioMed Central. Available at: December 17, 2022).

War (no date) National Geographic Society. Available at: December 17, 2022).

ABC News. ABC News Network. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Ancient civilization: Conquest (no date) National Geographic Society. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Apartheid (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: December 17, 2022).

Ziyin (Tommy) Zhou is a 16-year-old who lives in Melbourne, Australia. He enjoys reading books and news, writing articles, listening to music, swimming, appreciating the environment, playing tennis, and playing the violin.