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Guns, Violence and Society – Family and Community Level Solutions

Guns, Violence and Society – Family and Community Level Solutions by: John F. Hays,  a Seattle Private Investigator.

Violence in our society is a problem with no easy solutions. Since the “experts” and our social institutions haven’t fixed the problem, the subject is wide open for conversation. I don’t have “the answer”; but I’d like to offer up some ideas, in the form of assertions, for conversation.

The causes of violence are many and are linked together in a complex web of interrelationships. Possible fixes for the myriad small and large defects in our personal, family, community and national lives are as numerous as the causes. The interrelationships of the causes makes applying fixes a societal level experiment demanding careful observation of consequences within that web of interrelationships. Real solutions will come out of a concerted effort over a time-line measured in generations.

The solutions to criminal violence in our society lay primarily in the environment we create within which we raise our children. To save society, save the children.

Children are the future of society and of every subgroup into which we can divide society. Children are future contributing citizens and future criminals, the future rich and the future poor, the future workers and the future unemployed, the future leaders and the future led.

The United States of America is an incredibly wasteful society, the saddest example being our treatment of poor and minority children and any children who are “different”. We throw away our positive potential as a nation when we throw away our children. Those thrown away don’t disappear. Many fail to overcome their situations. Some turn to the dark side.

In the majority of cases, the potential for violent criminal behavior is indicated by earlier behavior and environmental factors that are visible to anyone who cares to watch and listen. The earlier we can identify and intervene with a person moving toward criminal, and, especially, violent criminal behavior, the more opportunities we have to intervene and divert the person from that path.

Violent criminals often arise from dysfunctional families. If a dysfunctional family is described as having some combination of poor or nonexistent parenting, intra-family emotional and physical violence and other mental health issues, drug abuse, unemployment and poverty, then possible solutions should address those factors.

Addressing causes within the family requires community level social programs aimed at positively improving the environment in which children are raised. We must work harder to identify children at risk and lower the threshold at which community level social service agencies can intervene to deal with the conditions jeopardizing children’s welfare. A child’s welfare should trump parental rights whenever the child is threatened by parents who don’t parent at all or who are so incompetent that the child’s mental and physical health are threatened. The same should apply to parental abuse or neglect arising from parents’ drug abuse, mental health issues and criminal activities. Parents who are emotionally or physically violent or who are sexually abusing children should lose all parental rights.

Children who develop their potential to be involved and productive citizens are less likely to become violent criminals. Each child should receive the best possible education, with the purpose of developing all the potential that each individual has, with no limits based on anything but that potential. High quality education should not be treated as a commodity that only the wealthy can afford.

Children, even those in loving and supportive families, cannot take full advantage of even the best educational opportunities if they have poor health care. Health care should not be treated as a commodity only the wealthy can afford. Health care should be nationalized, taking control from insurance companies and returning it to the hands of the people and their health care providers.

Good nutrition is the foundation of good health. Junk food is an oxymoron. Those who produce real food should receive the subsidies that now go to the corporations that produce the junk food to which so many people seem to be addicted. Organic, locally sourced food producers should get the subsidies that go to factory farms.

With so much of our future in the balance, why do we continually fail to prepare each and every child to grow up to be positive contributors to that future? Why do we write-off so many who happen to be born into poor and/or minority families. Why do we write-off so many who happen to be square pegs in a round-peg educational system. We create the future through the way in which we raise our children.

If you ask how we can afford to do any of these things, consider the money wasted on subsidies to corporate entities claiming to be free enterprise capitalists. Real free enterprise capitalists wouldn’t take subsidies. And don’t forget the subsidies mislabeled as tax breaks for the 1%. Public money should be spent on public good, not private profits.

Next: Guns, Violence and Society – The National Violence Addiction 

 

Domestic Violence Victims Likely Child Victims First

Adult Domestic Violence Victims Likely Child Victims First by John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

Domestic violence cases almost always leave me feeling a mix of emotions, anger, sadness and frustration. Too often, adult domestic violence cases involve the abuser and a victim who keeps coming back for more abuse, time after time after time. When a victim keeps making excuses for the abuser’s behavior and keeps returning for more, the sick co-dependency becomes obvious. The emotions I feel are for both abuser and victim, because the abuser very likely has a history of being a victim of abuse as a child.

The following report about a recently published research project helps explain this phenomenon. I believe that teenage abusers and some of their victims are very likely to go on to similar behavior in adulthood.

“Teen victims of dating violence are overwhelmingly more likely to have been victims of other forms of violence, such as sexual violence and child abuse, according to new research from the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center.”

 

Guns, Violence and Society – Causes

Guns, Violence and Society – Causes by John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

I think we already know at least some of the causes of violence in our society; but we’re too diverted and divided to look closely at the problem and take it on.

Aside from a limited number of cases where brain damage, drugs (Phencyclidine or PCP, et al.), or psychosis (schizophrenia, paranoia, et al.) contribute to violent behavior, most people, including researchers, believe that violent behavior arises from conditions that might be labeled as environmental. While the scientific community seems unwilling to say that they know the exact causes of violence in society, or in the case of any individual violent person, they do acknowledge a number of conditions or factors that appear to make individual violence more likely. They also point out that sometimes these factors show a “which came first” complexity.

It’s a nature versus nurture question. We are all born with the potential for violence. However, civilizing factors make most of us much less violent than that potential. I believe that most of us can be brought to violence by certain situations or conditions that threaten the life and safety of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.

The factors cited that contribute to, if not cause, violent behavior are numerous and often interrelated. It is clear that some people survive the adverse influence of these same factors and never act out violently. The following is only illustrative and is not an exhaustive treatment of the subject.

Causes within the family

Being born into a dysfunctional family, including some combination of

    poor or nonexistent parenting
    intra-family violence
    drug abuse
    unemployment and poverty

Causes within the larger society

Being raised in a society

    that glorifies violence and distorts its true nature and consequences
    that feeds us violence as entertainment
    that engages in a violent domestic war, labeled The Drug War, which enables violent gang culture and police corruption
    that engages in perpetual war against domestic and foreign terrorists as a substitute for The Cold War, in order to feed the Military Industrial Complex at the expense of our warriors, our domestic needs, and our economy
    that has turned our prisons into advanced training bases that fail to rehabilitate while enabling the incarcerated to learn more criminal skills.

 

Guns, Violence and Society – Addiction

Guns, Violence and Society – Addiction By: John F Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator

In spite of the best efforts of my history and civics instructors, I eventually found out that they lied and distorted many things about the history and government of my country of birth. They didn’t do this out of malice. They were doing no more than unconsciously engaging in the propaganda and indoctrination that they were subjected to in their own educations. It’s what the political classes do in every country. The victors not only get the spoils; they get to write or rewrite history, the revisionist history that glorifies the winners and ignores or justifies all the less than glorious truths behind their “victories”.

I’ve been around for more than 66 years and I’ve been paying attention for most of that time. I credit my political awakening to the Jesuits who ran my high school and the first university I attended. Though I am no longer a Catholic or a Christian, I greatly appreciate Jesuit involvement in my intellectual development, such as it is. They taught me two things that inform my way of thinking to this day. They taught me how to think, as opposed to what to think; and they taught me to question authority. These are dangerous traits, but are, in fact, essential to citizenship in a democracy. How can we learn and advance as a nation if we don’t know the truth about our past and the current machinations of those in power? How can we aspire to match the potential espoused in our high and mighty principles if we aren’t willing to look at our failures at living by those principles?

Our history starts with an invasion and the forceful taking of land belonging to indigenous peoples. By violent revolution, we broke away from an onerous overseas government. We continued our violent subjugation of the indigenous people, an effort that continues, in a somewhat less overt way, to this day. We fought wars to establish our northern and southern borders. We fought an internal war over the economic and human rights issue of slavery. We’ve had labor wars. We’ve had outbreaks of violence directed against voluntary and involuntary immigrants (Africans, Chinese, Japanese, Hispanics, Irish etc). We’ve experienced political assassinations and attempts at assassination. We’ve fought numerous foreign wars, some seemingly justified, some not. Violent crime, domestic violence, sexual violence, gang violence, road rage, highway carnage fueled by alcohol and drugs, the Drug War, the list goes on.

Modern culture is rife with violence and we wallow in it willingly. Movies, TV, music, games, sports, all glory in violence. Billions are spent producing and consuming violence. We honor and pay handsomely the actors, singers and athletes who feed our blood lust.

We are a product of violence…and we love it.

The debate continues over the effect of media depictions of violence on human behavior, especially that of our children. Now we are debating whether violent and hateful political speech can influence or cause violent behavior. We love to debate. We hate to actually engage collectively in defining problems that can be solved, finding real solutions and doing the hard work to attain them.

We are like alcoholics; and like alcoholics, we must admit to our addiction to violence before we can begin the journey to a cure. As a citizen, I have a stake in this situation. As a Seattle private investigator, working mostly in criminal defense, the stake I have has become more clear and tangible.

 

Domestic Violence – Protection Orders Useless?

Domestic Violence – Protection Orders Useless? by John F. Hays, a Seattle Private Investigator.

Having worked on a number of domestic violence cases over the years and being an avid reader of crime related news, it is quite obvious that the whole behavioral and crime category of domestic violence is very complex. As a practical matter, it seems to be beyond the ability of law enforcement and the courts to effectively deal with the problem or, more correctly, the complex of problems associated with the issue. Two things stand out to me as particularly problematic.

First: A protection or no-contact order is a very tenuous form of protection against future violence by a perpetrator against the same victim. My experience as a private investigator is that the orders are frequently violated by both parties, in collusion. From all the cases we’ve read or heard about over the years, it is sadly obvious that a violent person, intent on injuring or killing his or her victim, is not deterred by fear of legal consequences based on a bit of dead tree with some words printed on it.

Second: Victims of domestic violence are not easy to categorize. Some are mentally healthy, normal people who make the mistake of hooking up with people who later turn out to be violent. In spite of all their efforts to deal with the problem, these people sometimes fall prey to more harassment and violence from the same person. Some domestic violence victims have complex, personal psychological issues that result in their choosing to have co-dependent relationships with violent people. Too often they either return to the same relationship or find another person with whom to form another co-dependent relationship.

There is an old adage that goes something like this. If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something/anything else. The behavioral issues, including their roots, get a lot of attention from the mental health community. Both perpetrators and their victims need better access to counseling. The legal community needs to start from scratch in reforming its response to the crime of domestic violence. What they’re doing isn’t working.

Seattle Times Article

 
© 2012 HSI Investigations, A Seattle Private Investigator