According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, juvenile arrest rates in the United States decreased 36 percent between 1996 and 2009. In 2009, there were 5,804 teenage arrests for every 100,000 youths ages 10 through 17 in the United States. This is great news, especially when you couple it with the statistic reporting that all crime in the United States decreased by a little more than 20 percent between 1996 and 2009.
Although the reasons behind this crime decrease are not explicitly stated, I would like to think that the proactive work of our nation’s volunteer youth mentors has played a small role.
When you volunteer as a mentor for at-risk youth, you are providing children with the support they so need and deserve. Everyone needs a good example to follow, and youth mentor programs give children and teenagers the chance to learn by positive example and support.
If you are looking for an opportunity to make an impact in the future of today’s youth, consider volunteering your time and support to an at-risk youth mentoring program. To get you started, I have listed below the names of some well-known mentoring programs in the United States:
1. Big Brothers Big Sisters: This national program pairs one child with a “role model.” This one-on-one relationship is fostered through trust and real friendship. You will visit with your “Little” a few hours a day, a few days per month and give the child the opportunity to do things they enjoy (playing board games, creating crafts, going to a dance class, etc). The goal of this program is to offer the child a new perspective on life and help them realize the potential for life.
2. National Mentoring Partnership: This 23-state mentoring partnership serves as a one-stop shop for information and resources on at-risk youth mentoring opportunities. Each of the individual state mentoring organizations works with a wide range of programs within their state to foster and improve the quality of at-risk youth mentoring.
3. Other Local Programs: Most cities (especially in urban areas) have their own independent volunteer mentor programs. To find these, use an online volunteer search site (like volunteermatch.org). You can also call your local school district to ask them about any programs they may be aware of or involved with.
Be advised that all volunteer mentor programs require all potential volunteers to provide references. One-on-one interviews and background checks are also required before acceptance to the program.
Remember, crime rates may be decreasing, but the need for positive, adult role models will never decline.
Shannon Barnett owns the site Careers in Criminal Justice. In her spare time, she enjoys writing articles for various other sites on many topics of interest.
If you are thinking this is an article for dogs behaving badly, you have come to the wrong blog… this is in fact about saving lives, multiple lives, one dog at a time.
You may have heard of a therapy dog, but have you head of the amazing rehabilitation strides dogs can help make for individuals in correctional facilities? Prison Dog Programs are bringing brighter futures to lives that were once dark, ultimately saving three lives at a time.
While it is impossible to know the exact number of stray dogs in America, it is estimated to be in the millions, many are at the risk of dying of starvation on their own, or are euthanized if they are picked up and taken to a shelter and not adopted. Many times these dogs are passed over due to their lack of training, creating a grim future. Prison Dog Programs save the lives of these dogs by taking them in to be cared for and trained by select inmates. These dogs are taught basic commands, given the skills and tools needed to become more appealing for adoption; giving them a second chance at life.
Many times convicted criminals are forgotten once they are sentenced to jail time. If they are lucky enough to get parole or released from jail, they have a hard life of finding decent work and an employer willing to take a chance on them. Inmates chosen to participate in Prison Dog Programs typically have a history with animals and or training. By working with the lovable dogs the inmates develop a connection with another living being and build a deeper relationship where they experience compassion, responsibility, self control, emotion management and a new found respect for life. Through teaching and caring for these stray dogs the inmates are rehabilitated and gain a skill they can use once they are released.
Once the inmate successfully trains the dog, the stray has many options including adoption. In some cases the dogs stay within the system and can provide a wonderful therapy service to older prisoners or in some cases act as security dogs in the prison. Either option, the stray dog graduates the Prison Dog Program and escapes a life on the street or perhaps even death. The stray dog is now serving a purpose while feeling loved and cared for. By moving out of the program a spot becomes available for yet another stray dog, saving yet a third life.
This relatively new idea of incorporating dogs into the rehabilitation scene of correctional facilities has received rave reviews by many for all of the wonderful aspects it provides inside and out. With so many stray animals on the street, it is nice to see a community service benefiting these animals thrive while helping convicted criminals adjust and become more able to fit in with society once they are released. The amount of love and health benefits that can be shared by the companionship of a dog truly is a blessing and when you add this to the number of lives that are saved through the process, it is good all the way around!
Article by Dr. Susan Wright DVM. Dr. Wright is the author of numerous dog care articles and lead dog bark collar and invisible fence alternatives expert at Dog Fence DIY. Susan has over ten years of experience in veterinary practice and is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America.
The following is a guest blog post sent to us by Marina Salsbury
College Crime: Preventable With Awareness
While most parents and prospective students regard college as four years of final educational preparation for adult life, in reality college campuses are also often targets for crimes against property and persons. Students in schools big and small become victims of college crimes, many that quietly get covered up because college administrations are extremely sensitive to bad press. However, there’s no need to attend an online college to keep safe. For concerned students and parents awareness is the best way to prevent college crime.
In terms of violent crime, most college incidents occur when victims is traveling or standing alone in a dark area or at night (not including sexual attacks). By simply avoiding being alone and instead traveling with someone else, students can drastically reduce the chances of being targeted. Students should also pay attention to campus-wide alerts or notices about local crime. By heeding news about suspects, students can also avoid becoming victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Additionally, many students become victims of crime simply because they drink too much alcohol. Students who become heavily intoxicated or black out leave themselves largely vulnerable to whoever is around them. Rapes, assaults, and pranks all befall students who are too drunk to know what’s going on or to prevent the attacks. By simply exercising moderation in their drinking, students can avoid placing themselves in these sorts of situations.
Property theft is common on campuses as well, particularly with fashionable electronics. Smartphones, computers, and stereo systems all make great targets for thieves. Students are better served being discrete about their belongings or keeping valuable items securely hidden when not in use. If it’s not seen, the property can’t be much of a target to opportunistic criminals.
The biggest defense students have is to maintain situational awareness. This means always being aware of what’s going on around you. It’s not a paranoid state of mind, it’s paying attention to conditions, your immediate environment, and people near you. It also involves not placing yourself in situations where you will have a difficult time protecting yourself.
For many students, there’s an illusion of safety in college. Crime occurs out in towns and cities, not on college campuses. Unfortunately, this uncritical misconception repeatedly leads students to place themselves in bad situations where someone can take advantage.
Be Friendly, but Don’t Trust Everyone
Students want to trust each other like family. They’re spending two thirds of their days with roommates, friends, and romantic interests when not in classes. It’s easy to be trusting of anyone who looks like a student on campus. Instead, students need to remember to be cautious of people trying to get close. Being friendly is fine, but don’t trust just anyone with your safety or well-being. Again, safety comes with being proactive, not waiting to react when trouble arrives.
Many of the most crime-ridden urban areas today have seen increased gang activity over time. In recent years, psychologists, sociologists, community leaders, and other professionals have attempted to pinpoint why young people join gangs in the first place. Through firsthand research and discussions with ex-gang members, there’s been significant progress made in determining why this lifestyle attracts so many people. Ultimately, with a better understanding of the social and forensic psychology of gang membership, organizers hope to prevent youths from joining these groups and hence to deflate crime rates in key areas.
In a study administered and overseen by the US Department of Justice in 2009, it was found that there are more than 21,000 separate gangs in the United States with over 730,000 members. Clearly the need for more effective deterrents to turn young people away from this lifestyle is great, but first we must understand the reasons they choose gangs in the first place. An inability to grasp why young men and women turn to behavior that can be ultimately classified as self-destructive is a failure to recognize just how powerful the attractions of gang life can be.
Gangs are overt outgrowths of poverty, where opportunities for financial and professional advancement are slim to none. People who grow up in these areas have a sense they’re doomed to poverty, and in a way they lose hope that they’ll ever have a chance at bettering their lives. Gangs thrive on this type of thinking, and offer opportunities to the poor to improve their lots financially and socially through illegitimate and indiscriminate activities (stealing, robbing, etc.). It should be clearly pointed out, however, that poverty does not necessarily lead to criminal activity, and is only one factor in determining how individuals will choose to live their lives.
Closely linked to poverty is that sense of hopelessness, the thought that things will never get better. Thus, people may join ‘neighborhood’ groups that turn out to be more dangerous than they ever expected. Their biological parents are frequently in prison or are drug addicts, and young people will hence take the opportunity to bond with others in order to find friends and camaraderie, which has likely long been missing from their own lives. These groups have learned to operate secretively and are often very close-knit and extremely hard for law enforcement to break up.
In areas of extreme poverty, wholesome venues for activity like community recreational centers or other clubs are simply not available, usually due to a lack of funding. With a general sense of boredom, children look for other things to occupy their time. Gang activity is one such option. Peer pressure plays a role too, and often other kids in the neighborhood will encourage (or even coerce) individuals to take the oath and become members. Parents may not realize this is occurring, or if they do they may not care. In many cases, there may simply be no one around to exercise any kind of parental authority.
It is especially important to recognize the level of violence in gang-ridden neighborhoods. Residents often feel helpless and terrorized in the face of gun battles, and young people who reside in such violent areas look to local gangs for protection. Membership both protects them from rival gangs and guarantees retaliation from fellow members in the event they’re hurt themselves during a gang altercation. This is the true meaning of gangs’ blood brotherhood, and it kills scores each year.
There is a certain status elevation associated with being a gang member that is hard to overlook. Members true to the principles of the group can move up through the ranks and become respected leaders. This is something they may not have otherwise achieved outside the gang, and so represents a point of pride that’s hard to break. Those who have risen near the top can take responsibility for lucrative narcotics deals to will enrich themselves and their families. If family members have been particularly stricken by poverty and have no other means of support, then this sort of financial opportunity is hard to pass up, even if it involves taking the lives of others who’ve gotten in the way.
Gangs are violent because they have both territory and interests to defend. Rival gangs roam their own areas looking for intruders, prepared to take violent action against them. One encounter can spawn a series of escalating revenge incidents, difficult to stop and usually resulting in hatred and discord between adjoining neighborhoods for years or even decades.
The National Gang Center keeps track of some basic statistics on gang members, although it’s always difficult to tell exactly how many people are involved in gang activities. The 2009 National Youth Gang survey found a number of striking statistics. Gangs are most prevalent in the largest cities, as is to be expected. The largest cities (and surrounding suburban areas) accounted for nearly 96% of all gang homicides.
Ultimately, young people join gangs because these groups offer opportunity where there had been none before. Faced with abject poverty, people turn to gangs for a sense of community and pride, as well as a chance to support their families financially. Violence is at the forefront of most of these activities, and continues to plague population centers across the country. Understanding the despair that is the psychological cornerstone of gang recruiting and working to change social conditions to alleviate that hopelessness is the only way to ultimately defeat gangs and free cities from their threat.
The number of gang members in the United States exceeded 1 million as of 2009.
The top reasons for gang involvement are:
- low income
- learning disabilities and emotional disorders
- peer pressure
94% are male.
Unfortunately, it’s much harder to reach and save these kids and young men after they have entered a gang, due to a self-perpetuating downward spiral as they become more and more entrenched in and dependent upon the gang. It seems obvious to me that the only effective way to significantly get those numbers down is to prevent kids and young men from entering gangs in the first place by addressing those three root causes.
A recent article by MSNBC’s Joan Raymond informs us of results from a recent study about the long-lasting effects of sexual abuse.
For 23 years, the study followed 80 girls who were victims of sexual abuse as children. Compared to the control group, they had distorted levels of cortisol–the stress hormone, levels which Dr. Frank Putnam describes as resembling those of Vietnam Vets. These victims were more likely to be sexually active at younger ages, have lower educational status, and have more mental health problems.
I do not post this as some sort of surprising results or shocking revelation. I think it is intuitive. But I think is wise to take note of the science that confirms what common sense has already told us. In this case, it is that unfortunately the awful effects of abuse last for decades, and probably as many victims themselves have said for a lifetime.
Incidentally, the facts about the cortisol levels makes me wonder if maybe in the future routine testing of cortisol levels may become a way to identify at-risk children and teens.
What do you think?
Michael Totten wrote an interesting article in the New York Post about airport security based on personal experience.
I’m sure you have heard about the recent uproar in the United States about the Transportation Security Administration’s new procedure to use a machine to essentially see people naked or, if people refuse the machine, to actually feel the travelers’ genitals.
In the article, Michael Totten explains how the Israeli airport system really prevents terrorists from even getting to the metal detectors without ineffective sexually invasive searches. Michael Totten writes:
The [Israeli] system has its advantages, though, aside from the fact that no one looks or reaches into anyone’s pants. Israelis don’t use security theater to make passengers feel like they’re safe. They use real security measures to ensure that travelers actually are safe. Even when suicide bombers exploded themselves almost daily in Israeli cities, not a single one managed to get through that airport.
I just read a very interesting article about a new study that has provided even stronger evidence that the link between spanking and future aggressive behavior is causal, not just correlated as has long been known. In other words, this study is strong evidence that corporal punishment causes children to become more aggressive and misbehave more in the long run. The study controlled the variables that could also contribute to children having aggressive behavior to help make sure it was the spanking that was causing the aggressive behavior.
The article states, “Compared with children who were not hit, those who were spanked were more likely to be defiant, demand immediate satisfaction of their wants and needs, get frustrated easily, have temper tantrums and lash out physically against others.”
I can think of two main reasons this is important in relation to violence prevention.
Firstly, getting parents to abstain from making the mistakes such as spanking that cause their children to become aggressive and to misbehave later in life will prevent violent crime from occurring. I assume it would most prevent bullying in school, since that is perhaps the main way these children who are made aggressive by spanking end up victimizing people out of the home.
Secondly, making it common knowledge that spanking is counterproductive will disable physically abusive parents from trying to defend themselves by claiming that they were merely using corporal punishment. That’s not to say that any parent who has ever spanked a child was being abusive; they may have genuinely believed it was in the child’s best interest. Rather, I’m saying that parents who are actually abusive could pretend that they were like those parents who actually thought spanking was an effective way to get a child to behave in the long run. But they can’t pretend that anymore once all parents are made aware of the fact that spanking is a counterproductive parenting technique.
What do you think? You can post a comment below. You can also discuss the study in this thread at the Philosophy Forums.
I created this blog several years ago to do my part in reducing the amount of violent victimization in society, such as murder, rape, battery and so forth. Unfortunately, sometimes murder is committed by the governments that we want to protect us.
I remember the story of a teenage girl who was stoned to death by authorities for adultery in Somalia when she chose to report an alleged rape. Some other countries consider themselves more civilized for only choosing to provide the death penalty to murderers.
Of course, I want to use as much defensive force as necessary to protect people. If the only way to stop a murderer is with lethal defensive force, then I’m all for it.
But when we have already protected the innocent by incarcerating the offender, is it worth committing murder as punishment–even for murder? Let’s look at some facts about the death penalty provided by Amnesty International USA:
The death penalty defies international human rights standards. Over two-thirds of the countries in the world – 139 – have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice. In 2008, 93% of all known executions took place in five countries – China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the USA.
The death penalty is racially biased. Since 1977, the overwhelming majority of death row defendants (80%) have been executed for killing white victims, even though African-Americans make up about half of all homicide victims.
The death penalty claims innocent lives. Since 1973, 135 people have been released from death rows throughout the country due to evidence of their wrongful conviction. In this same time period, more than 1,000 people have been executed.
The death penalty is not a deterrent. A September 2000 New York Times survey found that during the last 20 years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 to 101% higher than the rate in states without the death penalty.
The death penalty costs more and diverts resources from genuine crime control. The greatest costs associated with the death penalty occur prior to and during trial, not in post-conviction proceedings. Even if all post-conviction proceedings (appeals) were abolished, the death penalty would still be more expensive than alternative sentences.
The death penalty disregards mental illness. The execution of those with mental illness or “the insane” is clearly prohibited by international law. In the USA, Constitutional protections for those with other forms of mental illness are minimal, however, and dozens of prisoners have been executed despite suffering from serious mental illness.
The death penalty is arbitrary and unfair. 95% of death row inmates cannot afford their own attorney. Local politics, the location of the crime, plea bargaining, and pure chance affect the process and make it a lottery of who lives and dies. Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, 80% of all executions have taken place in the South (37% in Texas alone).
These facts show us many of the drawbacks of the death penalty. But I think we all know that murder has drawbacks. Despite it’s drawbacks, I think people support it because they want revenge. I have posted many times about the foolishness of vengeance. In the case of the death penalty, supporters need to reconsider whether the pleasure they feel from hurting another person as revenge is worth the drawbacks and risks of committing murder. Personally, I want the focus of law enforcement and the criminal justice system to solely be to protect people from violent victimization such as murder, rape, battery, assault, muggings and so forth. I do not want the justice system diverted towards the sadistic goal of getting revenge.
What do you think? Would you ever support murder? Do you know any other interesting facts about the death penalty?
Just like with the historical prohibition of alcohol and the ongoing prohibition of drugs, I think prohibition of prostitution not only fails to prevent or reduce the occurrence of prostitution but greatly exacerbates the problems associated with it.
Nationwide, the war on prostitution costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually. I’m not sure of the accuracy of the next figure, but I’ve read that the city of Los Angeles alone spends close to 100 million dollars annually dealing with illegal prostitution. These larges sums of money could have gone towards actually protecting people from violent crime and victimization.
Also, the prohibition of prostitution increases sex slavery. The United States State Department estimates that 50,000 to 100,000 women and girls are trafficked each year in the United States. While prohibition has not prevented prostitution from occurring, it has sent the customers to buy sex services from violent criminal organizations and violent thugs who often prefer to get rich enslaving young women rather than paying willing employees. Just like with the prohibition of drugs, prohibition of prostitution means we have taken this multi-billion dollar industry away from law-abiding citizens and handed it over to violent criminal thugs who can now get rich enslaving women. In a country like the United States, I doubt the vast majority of customers would choose to buy sex services from violent criminal thugs if prostitution were legal and they could buy it from a legitimate, regulated companies. Frankly, when regulated, consensual prostitution is illegal, unregulated non-consensual prostitution is drastically increased.
Finally, today I came across an article from 1993 by Paul Armentano entitled, The Case for Prostitution. The article pointed out another major danger of the war on prostitution. And that’s AIDS. Armentano writes, “Ironically perhaps, the rising threat of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases has become one of the most compelling arguments for the complete legalization of prostitution. According to current evidence, roughly half of the street prostitutes in Washington, D.C., and New York City are HIV-positive. In Newark, New Jersey, the estimate is that close to 60% of all prostitutes carry the AIDS virus. Yet, in the relatively “free market” of Nevada, where prostitution is legal, not one (as of 1989) of the state-licensed prostitutes has ever tested positive for AIDS.”
Simply put, prostitutes, the buyers of prostitution and society as whole would all be much safer if we ended the expensive, futile war on prostitution. Let’s prevent violence and protect people by legalizing, regulating and taxing prostitution.
What do you think? Please post a comment below. You can also discuss the idea of legalizing prostitution in this thread at the Philosophy Forums.
Almost everyone wants to reduce the presence of murder, rape, assault and other violent aggression in our society. Indeed, protecting people from offensive violence is the point of this blog. Unfortunately, I just saw a disturbing video that reminds us that many times the ones from whom we need protection are the same police officers we are told are protecting us. In the video, a cop named Christopher Lloyd brutally assaults a 15-year-old special needs student because the student didn’t have his shirt tucked in:
It would be very nice if the students of a school like that had someone there to protect them from offensive violence such as murder, rape and assault. But the police officer they had was the violent attacker from whom they needed protection.
Luckily, it was caught on video. I shudder to think of how many other times a cop has brutally attacked a teenager and gotten away with it because it was not caught on video. If a young black male says a cop unjustifiably beat him, but the honored, respected officer makes up some story about the teen doing some sort of dangerous activity that gave the cop reasonable cause, do you think the young man would be believed? Do you you think the cop would get in trouble? I don’t.
But since it was caught on film this time, the cop was fired. Also, news sources later revealed that this wasn’t a one-time slip-up by an otherwise helpful person. This criminal has a history of violence. This fired cop is currently in jail on rape charges, which if convicted could give him a 20-year sentence. He has also been accused by his ex-wife of murdering a man he shot 24 times, but the Chicago police accepted his explanation that the killing was in self-defense–even though he shot the man 24 times! Too bad there wasn’t a video of that.
What do you think?
I created this blog to inspire us all to exercise compassion in an effort to reduce and hopefully eliminate offensive violence and protect ourselves and others. We want to stop offensive violence such as murder, rape, assault, battery and kidnapping. I have pointed out before that the desire for revenge causes many of those acts of violence. People literally beat and sometimes murder each other as revenge; not in defense but rather for revenge.
I think if we can remember to forgive it can help us avoid revengeful violence. For instance, if we forgive the violent criminal we can determine the most effective and efficient way to deal with him to protect the rest of us without having our judgment clouded and our decisions perverted by a dangerous, destructive desire for revenge. We can forgive a murderer, and still incarcerate the murderer out of compassion rather than revenge. If we forgive and refuse to seek revenge, our desire to protect people and prevent violence will not have to compete with a desire for revenge.
So in this post I have decided to provide a handful of quotes that I like about forgiveness:
“Many people are afraid to forgive because they feel they must remember the wrong or they will not learn from it. The opposite is true. Through forgiveness, the wrong is released from its emotional stranglehold on us so that we can learn from it. Through the power and intelligence of the heart, the release of forgiveness brings expanded intelligence to work with the situation more effectively.”
~ David McArthur & Bruce McArthur
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
~ Lewis B. Smedes
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.”
~ Thomas S. Szasz
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.”
~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“”Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”
“Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge, and dares to forgive an injury.”
~ Edwin Hubbell Chapin
“A more glorious victory cannot be gained over another man than this, that when the injury began on his part, the kindness should begin on ours.”
“Take forgiveness. Two levels here. One level: forgiveness means you shouldn’t develop feelings of revenge. Because revenge harms the other person, therefore it is a form of violence. With violence, there is usually counterviolence. This generates even more violence—the problem never goes away. So that is one level. Another level: forgiveness means you should try not to develop feelings of anger toward your enemy. Anger doesn’t solve the problem. Anger only brings uncomfortable feelings to yourself. Anger destroys your own peace of mind. Your happy mood never comes, not while anger remains. I think that’s the main reason why we should forgive. With calm mind, more peaceful mind, more healthy body. An agitated mind spoils our health, very harmful for body. This is my feeling.”
~ The Dalai Lama
“Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.”
~ Oscar Wilde
“We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies.”
“Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were.”
~ Cherie Carter-Scott
“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?”
~ Abraham Lincoln
“To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
~ Alexander Pope
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
“Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first skill of self-giving love.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
What do you think? Please also post any other quotes about forgiveness that you like!