Violent Crime and Public Policy Responses

Violent Crime and Public Policy Responses

Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) has been a very effective organization. “MADD was incorporated on September 5, 1980, the mission or purposes of MADD as stated in its Articles of Incorporation were “To aid the victims of crimes performed by individuals driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to aid the families of such victims and to increase public awareness of the problem of drinking and drugged driving,” (MADD Web site, 2018). MADD learned a valuable lesson during their first 4 years and then changed its name from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. “This carefully considered change was made because MADD is opposed to the criminal act of drunk driving, not individuals.

MADD also updated its mission statement to “Mothers Against Drunk Driving provides grassroots leadership to create major social change in the attitude and behavior of Americans toward drunk driving.” We have a lot to learn from MADD and how we ought to prosecute the case of proliferation of violence in America. MADD realized their real battle with with an attitude and a behavior that people exhibited, not with cars or even alcohol for that matter.

When politicians promote “gun control” to combat so-called “gun-violence,” they engage in a cruel deception that is designed to be emotionally popular in presentation, but is devoid of reason and affect in application. The truth is that laws rely on people to enforce them, and adding one more statute to an already well regulated arena solves nothing, but sets the expectation that miraculously something will happen to change violence in America.

The most recent mass murder in Florida highlights many laws in how we perceive laws and their execution. It has been widely reported that no less than 27 different opportunities presented themselves for different agencies to intervene in the life and actions of Nikolas Cruz, yet nobody did. The legal power was there, the tips were communicated and the stage was set for empowered government employees to act. But they did not. Was it the law, that failed or the people?

Understanding what triggers violent behavior and how we respond to it is an area of opportunity for public policy makers, law enforcement personnel, mental health workers, the courts and the community at large. “In the aftermath of public shootings, researchers are at a loss to compile a thorough and foolproof profile of a shooter. There are so many extraneous variables, and not everything that would appear on the surface to be linked to risk factors for public acts of violence necessarily holds up to scientific scrutiny,” (Aalai, 2016). Road rage has become an everyday occurrence, and in some cases ends in a fatal encounter over a parking space that one person thought they were entitled to over another. When it comes to an appreciation for the permanence of death, children seem to be the most at risk. Dr. Darcia Narvaez (2010) with the University of Notre Dame, “studies moral and character development in children and the negative effects of violent video games on the developing brain. We know now that there are ‘mirror neurons’ in the brain that are activated when one watches someone else take action,” Narvaez says. “In effect, watching someone take action is like practicing it yourself. So when a child plays a video game where they can kill people begging for mercy or burn people alive (as from ‘Postal2’), they are practicing being cruel.”

Public policy where human life is concerned, has become truly schizophrenic. Many legal and philosophical scholars -myself included- recognize incongruence in law and reality. When we do not stand up to protect the most vulnerable among us, we occupy the slippery slope. To stem the tide of violence, ought we not address the reverence for life and recognize for all its precious nature? If we are showing our children and adolescents that the lives of little ones are not worthy of protection, what signal are we sending to them about how the life of another should be respected? No matter what the weapon is, be it a car, a knife, a club or even a firearm, in the hands of an individual who is incapable of controlling their anger, the result can, and often is fatal. But, MADD has taught a a lesson worth noting. It is the person who should be the focus of attention, not their deed or how they carried it out. If we really want to reduce violence in America, then we need to examine our own hearts and our capacity for protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Aalai, A. Ph.D., (2016). Profile of a mass shooter: The domestic violence link. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-first-impression/201605/profile-mass-shooter-the-domestic-violence-link

MADD, (2018). https://www.officer.com/home/company/10450410/mothers-against-drunk-driving-madd

Narvaez, D. (2010). “Violent video gams link killing to rewards, keeps kids’ “primitive brain” in charge,” https://news.nd.edu/news/nd-expert-violent-video-games-link-killing-to-rewards-keep-kids-primitive-brain-in-charge/

 

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