Launch Post: Violence—The Ever-Increasing Epidemic

This article Blocking the Transmission of Violence, by Alex Kotlowitz, brings to light the troublesome problem of gang violence in Chicago. Not only is this violence the reason behind numerous deaths of the youth of Chicago, it is also a steadily increasing problem. The leaders of the city are now facing the challenge of how to stop this violence from continuing to increase, while also decreasing the number of youth involved, thus hoping for the decrease of deaths. Many tactics have been experimented with, but have yet to show the desired results. Now, however, a very new approach has been proposed and is being utilized. Studies have shown that gang violence has very similar transmission qualities as diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS. If this is the case, then why not treat them as such? Because of this, many experts are applying what they know about the curbing of these diseases to the streets of Chicago. This does bring to question the accuracy of this technique. Is it really going to be effective? In some ways it does seem like a stretch. The article put it this way, “The way public-health doctors think of curing disease when there are no drug treatments is by changing behavior.” So the real tactic is changing behavior. How is this done? Education. This is a very intriguing approach. It sounds like a very effective method on the surface, but somehow almost seems too easy. Education is one thing, but actually getting the youth to believe you and change their behavior is different. Yes, it does take education, but education is sometimes not enough. How can leaders ensure that their material will be taken to heart and that the youth will apply what they learn? Can this behavior really be changed simply through extra classes and courses taken? Or will these be overlooked or stored in the back of the youth’s mind, as many other lessons from high school are? Whatever the case may be, these situations have to change. There has been too much death because of the rapidly growing gangs. The numbers and statistics can attest to this. As far as success goes, the organization CeaseFire puts it honestly enough, “It can be hard to measure the success — or the failure — of public-health programs, especially violence- prevention efforts.”

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One Response to Launch Post: Violence—The Ever-Increasing Epidemic

  1. Although I am a huge fan of increasing and bettering education, especially in regards to inner city youths, because they are typically underprivileged. But sometimes education won’t make a difference. There was this fantastic article, “Prison and the Poverty Trap”, about crime and the influence that jail-time can have on a person. Carl Harris, the subject of the article, talks about how he knew the risks and the problems in his 20s when he was a part of a gang and sold drugs. But he felt that he was untouchable and could live through anything. Essentially he had the young adult belief that he was immortal. So I would say that yes, education will help to alleviate the issue, but some of the problem is born from testosterone fueled misconceptions, the foolish belief that nothing people do has consequences. And these misguided beliefs may not even be cultural, there is a decent chance it is biological in nature and riskiness is a side-effect of the huge amount of hormones that rush through young adult’s systems. But in my opinion education is not a cure-all. It is extremely useful, but there are other factors that need to be addressed. The article link is below.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/science/long-prison-terms-eyed-as-contributing-to-poverty.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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