There are many more than eight ways to prevent violence in your community.
In this blog, we talk about how we can prevent violence in the school, the home, and the community through intervention programs, what teachers and bystanders can do when a child is bullied, and how to protect you and your family from online stalkers. Here’s some food for thought for preventing domestic violence – make a good decision when choosing a mate! But I digress…
First, think about these questions.
Why send a child to detention instead of counseling?
Why send a drug-addict to jail instead of life-skills training?
Why not give a hug instead of a spanking?
We are a society that punishes
Because we believe in punishment and strict discipline, does that make our society a bullying society? We threaten and cajole and punish in not-so-very-nice ways. We control the under-ling and make fun of them. We blame victims for being in their terrible situation, and at the same time, invalidate their cries for help.
We give little latitude to the child who is defiant or having a meltdown. These are impulses children must learn to control, we believe, and if they lose control, we punish them.
Viktor Frankl says:
abnormal behavior in an abnormal situation is normal.
We give children adult problems and expect them to respond in like an adult. This is unfair to the child and does not help his situation at all.
This does not make much sense once you think about it, does it?
What makes even less sense is that people are in denial that they are part of the problem. We decide gun control laws will control people’s impulsive behavior, but every school shooting was planned in advance. School shooters are severely bullied, have tried every way to get their bully(ies) to leave them alone, and bringing a gun to school is the last resort.
This is why it is important for communities to implement programs to end the violence in homes and school. Too many children are left in the cold, doors closed to them, unable to make their way. And that is the purpose of this article, to bring awareness of solutions that will bring these children in from the cold.
The quickest way to heal a lonely heart is to give
HUGS NOT HITS
The quickest way for a community to help heal these children is to implement programs that do so.
Nine Ways to Prevent Violence in Your Community
- Police officers connect with the community in a non-threatening, non-violent way
- Schools actively stop the bullying
- Teachers identify and understand children in trauma
- Parents proactively advocate for children
- Mental health counseling treats the trauma
- Healthcare providers consider how social and family environments impact overall health and behavior
- Social Services comfort and counsel the family without separating them
- Communities offer family-oriented activities
- Daycare centers that take children in the evenings and weekends, when many low-income families must work
Policemen seem to only see people in trouble – making trouble, to be more exact. The old-town sheriff that knew everyone, and everyone knew him as a friend and a protector has taken the way of old-time America. This system was never perfect, and some people took advantage of their power, but overall, there was the home-spun goodness of people trying to work things out in a logical way.
Trauma-sensitive schools are necessary in today’s world. With so many children at a disadvantage because of their home lives and violent neighborhoods, many children are traumatized. We try to put these rounded-headed children into square holes and wonder why they do not fit in. To add to the mix, these same children are bullied in school, not just by their classmates, but sad to say, by their teachers, as well.
Both policemen and teachers have the toughest jobs in the world. They are left to manage unruly children. They believe the only way to do so is to have a strict policy of behavior with no leniency. Unfortunately, this very thinking is part of the problem.
The states that spend the most on mental health spend the least on prisons.
Incarceration and mental health are inversely related.
States with high incarceration rates spend the least on mental health.
Mental health. Less than half the people in America that need mental health care have access to it. There are not enough therapists to go around, and there are barriers in getting to counseling which keep people from seeking help.
- Taking time off work.
- Having no transportation to the appointment.
- Finding a daycare for an hour or two.
- School counselors are usually not trained in treating trauma.
Mental health agencies, the medical community, and social services play a vital role in the mental health of our nation. In some communities, these three work together, but for the most part, they are separate entities dealing with the same individuals.
Collaboration between the three, with the client in the middle of the equation, allows professionals to understand their client’s unique position in life. Assuming everyone who is depressed needs an antidepressant, ignoring the fact that their client lives in poverty, or deciding that families should be separated when there is a violent dispute, are not good ways to build strong families.
Daycare and preschools. Now we come to the crux of the problem. Daycare and early childhood intervention. Some states are waking up to the music and understanding preschools and daycare are paramount for a family to succeed.
When a parent works evening or weekends, and there is no daycare, they rely on friends and relatives to watch their children. The child often gets pushed aside, in the way, and questioned, “why are you here?” Friends, boyfriends and relatives prove they can be quite abusive when left alone with their charges.
The highest rate of poverty is with single moms. You may be in this position. Where do your kids go when you have to work the graveyard shift? Or do you tell your boss you do not have a babysitter, and then you lose your job because you cannot show up to work?
Providing daycare to all children who need it is the #1 intervention communities can implement to prevent violence. The second is to ensure that all children receive adequate preschool education. Children who do not attend preschool find themselves at a great disadvantage in the first year of school. By grade three, if the child does not show an interest in school, the risk of dropping out and getting arrested increases exponentially.
Solutions for ending domestic violence and stalking
1. The higher the potential for violence and the risk of mental illness, the more aggressive the prosecution and intensive psychiatric treatment should be.
2. Place stalkers that re-offend their restraining orders on strict probational supervision, especially during the couple’s separation when the tempers are most heated.
3. Proactive police work identifies domestic violence and domination before the violence escalates.
4. Counseling and social services offer trauma therapy and family building skills.
Here again, mental health counseling and community programs help families stay together. Seventy-five percent of stalking cases are male intimate stalkers. This means husband or boyfriend gone crazy. Women also stalk, but not in as great of numbers or with such intensity as men.
I’m sure there are men who will disagree with this, but the data shows otherwise.
When talking about data, though, you have to understand that no matter how straightforward the numbers seem, they are skewed towards some bias. In the case of men stalked by women, the numbers would probably be higher, but there are reasons for them not being as accurate as we would like.
- A man is more likely to be arrested than a woman. Even if “she started it,” if physical evidence points toward the man, the police are more apt to believe the woman’s story.
- Men are less likely to initiate a call to the police. Their woman gets a little crazy but he thinks he can handle her – until things get out of control.
- She is a vicious little snake and cannot let go. She reports her “ex” over little things and the next thing he knows, he ‘s facing a stalking charge. How did that happen?
You never really know the person you fall in love with, we all have dark sides we keep hidden. It isn’t until things start going sour – the love, the money, the stress -and then the dark side comes out.
We all have demons and baggage we carry into a relationship, but to be healthy, one must bring those demons out of their baggage compartment into the open and process the memories.
Mate selection. Picking the right mate seems like a no-brainer, but judging from the failed and violent relationships I see, people are not careful about who they pick for a lifetime of love. It is too easy to get married, too easy to become pregnant, too easy to find yourself in BIG trouble.
Choosing the right mate is the biggest and most important decision you can make in your life. Ask yourself, “Is this someone I want to be the father/mother of my children?” If you hesitate, you have your answer. Please, do not put your future children into an abusive relationship. You have this choice. Make a good one.
Stop the bullying in schools!*
INTERVENTIONS BY BYSTANDERS
Bystander strategies that make things better:
- spend time with me
- talk to me
- help me get away
- call me
- give me advice
- help me tell
- distract me
- listen to me
- tell an adult
57% of incidences stop when a peer intervenes
on behalf of the student being bullied
Peer actions were more helpful than educator or self-help actions
Trying to change the behavior of the bully makes things worse
(fighting, getting back at them, telling them to stop)
INTERVENTIONS BY TEACHERS
Most helpful things teachers can do
- Listen to the student
- Check in with them afterward to see if bullying has stopped
- Give the student advice on how to handle the situation
Most harmful things teachers can do
- Tell the student to solve the problem themselves
- Tell the student if he/ she acted differently they wouldn’t be having problems
- Ignore what is going on
- Tell the student to stop tattling
- Tell the student not to let the bully bother him/her
Actions that have the most negative impact
- Telling the bully to stop
- Telling the bully how I feel
- Walking away
- Pretending the bully does not exist
A caring, sharing community.
“For if you are free to fail, you are free to try.”
- A strong social-welfare net
- Health programs that people can afford
- Community-based education
- Creative activities for children and youth
- Encouragement and strong social ties
- Feeling of connectedness
- Caring people
- Tolerance to those different from oneself
- Conflicts resolved in such a way that no one loses face
- Counseling for traumatized kids at young ages
So there you have it. Many more than eight ways we can prevent violence in our communities. We can be smarter about who we pick as a mate, we can get involved in our schools and advocate for stricter bullying policies. We can show the leaders in our communities the benefits of instituting kid- and parent-friendly programs into the community that helps build strong families.
If people are well fed, contented in their life, and at peace with their friends and family, there is no need for violence prevention. This, in itself, is the recipe for a healthy society.
It is time to stop the talk and put words into action. There are many ways we can slow this cycle of violence our world has fallen into. A grassroots effort begins by making a conscious effort to practice kindness and compassion.
*References for this article:
Broderick, P.C., Blewitt, P. (2010). The life span. Human development for helping professionals. Pearson. USA.
Davis, S., & Nixon, C. (2010). The youth voice research project: Victimization and strategies.
Mohandie, K., Meloy, J.R., McGowan, M.G.., & Williams, J. (2006). The RECON Typology of stalking: Reliability and validity based upon a large sample of North American stalkers. Journal of Forensic Science.
One in 100: Behind bars in America: 2008. PEW Center on the States.