Programs that address social problems at a young age are the most effective ways of preventing violence. There has been some talk about warning signs weeks or months before the school shooters committed their crimes. These shouldn’t be ignored of course but the most effective solutions should come months or years before the warning signs happen.
This means addressing problems from early childhood before they get as bad. Programs like Head Start, daycare, PTA etc. are the most effective ways to address these problems. The best time to teach conflict resolution is at an early age with simple things that many adults may consider trivial or childish. Of course it’s trivial or childish they’re children! The important thing is that the example set at an early age is what they learn throughout life. In many cases if the parents comes from a troubled home they may not know how to raise their children themselves since what they know about childhood is what they learned when they were young. If they were abused when they were young then that may be the only way they know how to raise their children. This is why programs like the Home Visiting Program for at risk mothers can be so helpful. This program which originated in Hawaii offers assistance to at risk mothers. They send a home visitor to provide some help with chores and advise on how to raise children. The children who benefit from this program are much less likely to get in trouble later in life than at risk children who don’t receive this assistance.
Other programs like AmeriCorps can help later in life. If children do get into trouble the sooner it is addressed them more likely it is that they will be successfully rehabilitated. The most successful progrmams to prevent crimes are not the ones that wait for the last minute they are the ones that address the problems as soon as possible. The solutions that the public often spend the most time discussing are the ones that stop problems just barely before they happen if at all. More often than not they don’t work so they wind up punishing people after the fact instead of preventing crime. This often results in massive security that hampers everyone guilty or not and a massive prison system. Many of the people who balk at programs that help children don’t hesitate to advocate massive prison expansion. This is pennywise and poundfoolish. Child care programs are much cheaper and more effective than prison programs. The problem is instead of thinking this through many people rush to judgement with their emotions especialy if it right after a disaster like Columbine. This is made worse by demagogues and politicians that are constantly praying on peoples emotions. The media gives much more air time to these demagogues and no more than a token amount to people like James Garbarino. What we need is also media reform where there is some accountability for those that control the media.
First posted on tripod on 08/22/2009
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