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