Americans are shocked when young men walk into neighborhoods or schools and shoot innocent people. We shake our heads in frustration as the national discussion narrows down to guns and mental health. Passing gun control laws and building mental health facilities have limitations. We must address the root cause for violent behavior.
Today, one in four women are raising children in abusive relationships. Domestic violence and child abuse makes it difficult for children to succeed in school. Some children learn to bully by observing adults while sensitive children can become victims. These children struggle to make friends and have difficulty in school. Isolated families put children at risk.
Mass shooters, gang “bangers” and youth in juvenile halls have something in common…growing up socially isolated and emotionally immature. Abuse can prevent a child’s emotional development.
Isolation contributes to domestic violence and child abuse. Abusers isolate their victims. Criminals thrive in disconnected neighborhoods. Disconnected neighbors can become mentally and physically ill due to stress.
Many homeless people were hit, whipped, beaten, sexually abused and neglected. As children, they blamed themselves and sank into depression, drugs or other addictions. Isolated and alone, many victims develop mental problems.
If social isolation continues, teens can shut down their conscience and blame society for their plight. Anger can become an obsession. A small percentage of youth feel relief from pain as they kill others and/or themselves.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers” he writes about the town, Rosetta, PA. where people only died of old age. Neighbors had strong connections with social groups, churches and each other, which created a safe, healthy community.
City leaders can help strengthen families. Social isolation is a community problem! Appoint volunteer ACTION Committees to focus on a citywide plan to bring neighbors together. Religious leaders can “Adopt-A-Block” and offer listening circles to help neighbors heal from anger, stress, loss and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Civic groups can “Adopt-A-Block” and offer programs. Youth groups can conduct surveys and bring neighbors together.
City leaders can reduce the isolation that keeps people “in bondage” behind locked doors. Responsible Americans can take control of neighborhood and child safety. We can unite in a community effort to strengthen families, which will strengthen our democratic way of life.
Stephanie L. Mann, Crime and Violence Prevention Consultant
Safe Kids Now! (Adopt-A-Block Guidebooks and ebooks available)
The published version of, “National Priority: Protect Children” on:
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