Acts of violence, hate crimes, and terrorism are definitely on the rise. We watch our television sets in disbelief. It is as if one is trying to outdo another in the killing game. We ask why. Why are there people out there who are so unhappy with their lives that taking the lives of others is the only answer they can come up with? Is this scapegoating–holding others responsible for what the shooter did that made him unhappy? We also ask if this could be us? There but for the grace of God, go I. And it is with this humility that we realize there may be some answers, with the first one being our attitude if we have chosen judging rather than understanding the person. Another answer is using community service volunteers to combat criminal behaviors. Volunteering in children’s homes, serving as responsible foster parents, or working with nonprofit community agencies for children are available.
I see people who commit heinous acts of terrorism on their neighbors as being power-seeking people—those who were forced to succumb to the power of others or those who thought they had it and lost it. There are no acceptable explanations for the gunman who decided to shoot more than half of the congregation of a small, country church. We don’t know his background yet. The person that did this wanted to inflict as much pain as he could to get rid of the pain he was feeling himself. The urge to exercise control was far greater than any sense of humanity he might have harbored. Learning more about the background of anyone capable of such an act can be a first start toward accepting the reality of such situations. They are not going to magically disappear. Hating these people and turning off the TV news just might put us in the same category with those who commit terrible acts. We need to ask ourselves what small part or large we might play in combatting violence. We need to
- educate ourselves about the symptoms of those most likely to become violent
- learn why people do what they do
- find out why people are so easily indoctrinated and led by others to kill
- look for what is behind that anger
- make sure we are giving our children what they need to reduce the number of incidents in the future
This is a limited list of things we can do. Please use the comments section below to list those things that come to you and any other concerns you have about this subject.
Where does emotional pain come from?
Childhood environments. Many of us experienced environments of living with parents who hated each other, parents who were addicts, and parents who were just plain mean. Does that mean that every child raised in a similar environment is going to grow up and shoot a church full of people? No. It means that there are many children who for whatever reason carried their feelings of neglect and abandonment into adulthood, did not confront these problems and deal with them, and recreated them in their own families. This resulted in the same or worse levels of unhappiness, not only for themselves, but for the individual’s entire family. Many of these families live in bad neighborhoods where children are forced by other children to commit crimes in order to have a place to belong—frequently called a gang. Unfortunately, children seek another bad environment for love or friendship to replace that which they don’t feel at home. The only way out for these children is to leave the neighborhood. Many leave through the criminal justice system but return because they don’t think they can make it anywhere else. This cycle is repeated with addiction being a large complicating factor, making it extremely difficult to survive.
According to E. Mosely of DefenderNetwork.com, 7.3 million children in this country have a parent in prison. This leaves the care of these children up to a remaining parent, if there is one, grandparents, other relatives, or foster care parents. Very often, they are left to take care of themselves or are shuffled between homes. Many of those placed with foster care parents are likely to leave and become homeless, living on the street. These children develop mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, abandonment, or post-traumatic stress disorder, making it even more difficult to adapt to their situation. Of the 7.3 million children, 70% are likely to follow in their parents’ footsteps.
Traumatic events in the life of a person can cause considerable pain, leading a person to make unwise decisions. Shaka Senghor served over 20 years in prison after having killed someone. He tells his own story in a short video. Unfortunately, there are not enough good prison stories, nor are most of these children going to be okay. There is not enough mental health support to identify and treat these children. It is only when they themselves get into trouble that their problems are uncovered, unless they had problems in school and were fortunate enough in school to be tagged for a program that could help them. Occasionally, you will find prisoners who are reformed in prison, but they are rare.
What can we do about it?
Most large police departments have programs that benefit the community.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has more than 3,000 volunteers working in various police department programs designed to improve the environments children live in and to educate parents and children about the many things they can do to help themselves. Of these volunteers, over 300, “are over the age of 70” and the total number of volunteer hours worked per month by the 3,000 is 20,000 hours. LAPD is larger than many and likely has over 50 programs to volunteer in. Just a few of their many programs are
- Youth at Risk Programs
- Jeopardy Youth Programs
- Radio Operators
- Neighborhood Watch Programs
- Youth Centers
- Crisis Response Teams
I urge you to consider becoming a volunteer in a police department; however, there are many other places in the community, and I will be following up this article with another to delineate some of those. The important thing is to see yourself as an instrument of benefitting mankind by getting involved in some program that works with children and or their parents. These problems of violence are all around you and all over the world. Just think of the talents you have to offer–sharing your own hobbies, using your abilities to speak, listen, or both, sharing your own childhood stories and what you gleaned from them, etc. There is no end to how you might facilitate the healthy life of a child and his or her family.
Throughout this website, I have supported helping others in your community for several reasons. Helping is an opportunity to
- Pay it forward
- Care for someone
- Draw attention to a good cause
- Feel good about yourself
- Work with other people in mutually satisfying endeavors
- Set goals and meet them
- Get so wrapped up in the problems of others in a good, helpful way that you forget you have problems
- Extend your life by years
Please leave your comments, objections, opinions, and your plans to volunteer below.