Observations: Causes of violence are difficult to pin down

July 15, 2014

in Local

SWO-webBy Pete Danisls
Contributing editor

Violence and mayhem, in one form or another, have become our daily fare. Virtually not a day goes by without some reports of shootings, stabbings or other forms of assault in some part of the country.

Fortunately, Sedalia and Pettis County have, so far, avoided making national headlines, but we all know that could change at any given time.

It is difficult for us to understand why people — from teenagers to those well into their retirement years — suddenly grab a weapon of some kind and target others, be they fellow students or neighbors.

The problem is so prevalent that studies concerning the causes are on-going. Crime in America.Net recently noted that the Police Executive Research Forum, which bring chiefs of police from across the U.S. together, asked for their opinion on the issue.

In 2009 this group put together a list of the top 10 factors that contribute to violent crime. Among their findings was that in 74 percent of the cases, impulsive violence and disrespect issues were leading causes. Juveniles and youth crime were cited in 80 percent of the cases and, 63 percent of the time, poor parenting was given as the cause.

Increasing drop-out rates were listed in 36 percent of the cases and the increased availability of guns was listed in 55 percent of the incidents.

A Dr. Patrick F. Fagan, quoted in a heritage.org report said there is a need for a better understanding of “the link between illegitimacy and violent crime and between the lack of parental attachment and violent crime…”

He further claimed that “state-by-state analysis by Heritage scholars indicates that a 10 percent increase in the percentage of children living in single-parent homes leads typically to a 17 percent increase in juvenile crime” and added that the “rate of violent teenage crime corresponds with the number of families abandoned by fathers.”

That, of course, doesn’t explain why an argument over shrubbery would prompt one neighbor to kill another. In fact, the most sobering reality about all of this is that there are no easy answers or explanations.

When they were asked what they thought was the case for violence, the younger members of our society listed the number one reason as the media. Imagine that. Next in their order of causes were substance abuse, gangs, unemployment, weapons, poverty, peer pressure, broken homes, poor family environment or bad neighborhoods and intolerance and ignorance.

Quote all of the scholarly studies you want, but the younger set’s list of causes may be as close to the truth as you may come.

Those of us who have been around since the 1950s can tell you that the changes we have seen since then are more than dramatic. In those days, people were more connected, neighbors knew and cared for one another, helped each other, trusted each other.

Families were cohesive units and, when difficult times arrived, worked together to find solutions, often with the help of more distance family members or even neighbors.

Today, people don’t seem able to relate to each other. The written word as a form of communication is slowly fading away in favor of incomprehensible abbreviations so popular among those who depend on “texting” to communicate.

The speed at which texting occurs is astounding to those of us who are more familiar with such things as letters. It isn’t uncommon these days to see people in the same room texting each other, rather than speaking to each other.

The disconnected way in which many of us live these days could be the best explanation we may find for what we are seeing. People need other people, plain and simple, and a cellphone is a poor replacement for ordinary human understanding and interaction.

The more disconnected we become, the greater the underlying frustrations will be. Is that a subject worth considering?

If you have an opinion on this subject, or any other, please contact us at sedaliaobserver@gmail.com, write to us at Sedalia Weekly Observer, 2700 West Broadway, Suite 10, Sedalia, Mo., 65301, including your name, address and telephone number so that we may verify you are the author. Or, just drop by for a visit. We’ll make time for you.


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