Most of us has been disturbed by the recent school shootings. As a Public Health professional, prevention is my middle name. How could it have been prevented?
We have to remember violence is done everyday in the home, communities, cities, countries and states. How can any violent act be prevented? There are many different ways to prevent violence and gun control is a very small part of that. Read and then comment with some of your ideas on preventing violence.
Once a week I volunteer at a ministry for inner city kids. It is a great ministry that has all kinds of activities for kids ranging from k – 12. I’m one of the basketball coaches for girls in grades 3-5.
Every week the girls get dinner, a little Bible study and then we do basketball skills and mini games. They have a good time.
This week the Bible study was about Jesus forgiveness of the adulterous woman found in John 8:1-10. The head coach did a wonderful story using basketballs and said this verse from John 8:7(NIV) “When they kept on questioning him (Jesus), he straightened up and said to them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."”
To help them understand, she asked the girls if they have ever not listened to their parents or said unkind things to other kids and of course everyone raised their hands. She finished up the Bible lesson and then each coach talked with their group of girls.
I started talking to my group of girls about the lesson, who are mostly 9-year old’s, and the conversation turned to who has been in a fight! A few of the girls have been in fights already in their short lives. I talked about turning away, standing up for themselves without resorting to fighting, being kind, setting good examples, being like Jesus.
They asked me if I had ever been in a fight and I said no. They were shocked. To them fighting is a part of life. According to the girls when someone is rude or has an attitude with you, you get in their face really close and tell them to stop or something might happen. (I have seen this a few times since I started volunteering there). And then the conflict starts to go back and forth between the girls and sometimes more girls get into it. It usually doesn’t end well (if we don’t stop it).
I love working with these girls and showing them God’s love. They are a joy to be around and are quite funny. However, it’s sad how much violence is a part of their lives and they may not even realize it.
One of the classes I had to take when getting my master’s degree was Health Behavior Theory for Public Health. I learned different theories on why people behave the way they do. Some theories use ecological approaches. The ecological pathways say behaviors are influenced by the environment people live in and are surrounded by. The classic ecological model by Bronfenbrenner says people are highly influenced by parents and family, then community, friends, the environments their parents are in like at work, then cultural values, laws, etc.
Behaviors can be developed by how people interact with their environments. Our environments can help us or harm us. So, let’s get back to the girls. How do you think their environments are?
Violence is a behavior that is the result of a feeling, like anger, hurt, pain or revenge. As stated in the ecological theory, if violence is part of your close environment it is very easy to adopt being violent.
Violence is a health issue. The World Health Organization defines health as: a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Why is violence a health issue – is someone in a state of physical, mental or social well being when they are violent or had a violent act done to them? No! Most violence is done as a response or reaction to a thought then a feeling. When our brains are in certain heightened states as anger, hurt or pain some of our logical reasoning is overridden. We are stinking thinking. If you are in an environment that fosters violence, or it is a normal way of life, it is easier to be violent.
So how do we stop violence or decrease violence? Using the ecological pathway, it must happen on many levels. Gun control is not the ultimate answer, if guns are controlled there are other weapons that can be used. It comes down to changing our environment and its and our responses to hurt, anger, pain or whatever causes violent acts to be done. Our environment includes ourselves, the people we are around, the communities we live in, laws, culture, schools, etc.
Some other ways to stop or decrease violence are:
Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your views on violence and how you can help your village be non-violent. Please comment, follow me, like and share. Love ya!
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Christina Leeman MPH, writer and health educator, emboldens women to be the She Who Honors God with her all - body, thoughts, words, actions.
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