Preventing Violence to create Healthy Communities


Recent incidents of violence in Elizabeth have not surprised us, but they made us worry about the future of our communities.  Violence incidents happen everywhere and for the most part in the most unexpected moments, when we are off-guard.  They lash us and let us shaken, frightened and hopeless.  Law enforcement attacks the problem when it is happening, but we need to look into what we as an empowered and vocal community can do to prevent these events from happening. Our safety and our children’s is everybody’s responsibility.  I do not want to make severe statements that make me create prejudices and inaccurate judgments about the attackers. The reality is that many of these perpetrators lack compassion, empathy, and the awareness of the other.  The list of the causes of their maladjusted behavior could be infinite, but untreated and not medicated mental illnesses, unemployment, victims of domestic violence themselves set a pattern in their lives where they understand the way they were treated is just the way to live a life.   HOW LOW WE NEED TO GET TO START TO LIVE A LIFE IN SPIRIT AND UNITY!  HOW MUCH MORE AS A COMMUNITY CAN WE ENDURE UNTIL WE REALIZE WE HAVE TO TAKE ACTION AND OWNERSHIP OF OUR COMMUNITIES PROACTIVELY!

When law enforcement starts investigating cases, nobody knows anything; nobody wants to talk for fear of retaliation.  The people who witness these incidents fear that their relatives and families will suffer if they talk.  Gangs of teenagers are the ones spreading into our communities and ruling them.

According to the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) these are the reasons youth affiliates withgangs:

► Security, protection and a sense of belonging

► Lack of family, community, or youth support system (too much unsupervised time)

► Sense of status or respect

► living in a gang infested community or having family members in a gang

► Low self-esteem

► Financial opportunities (i.e. profits from drug distribution and other illegal activities)

►Peer pressure

► Thrill seeking

►Media glorifying violence

As parents, educators, active members of different churches, mentors we have a responsibility towards the new generation.  We need to educate and help the youth who might be experiencing the living conditions that the perpetrators for the most part did.

1.  Talk frequently with your adolescent child.

2.  Encourage and support your child to participate in sports/ dance recitals/ performing in art groups.

3. Monitor and limit access to violent content of programs of television, music and video of your child’s video games.

3  Develop in minors respect and pride in the community where they live.

4  Know with whom your child spends free time.

5  Active your presence in the community where you live and the school where their children study.

If we no longer have children at home, try to visit schools or become mentors for children who need productive social models. If we’re not aware of this serious problem which affects us all equally, our future generations may not enjoy a healthy life.

Published by Maria Santiago- Valentín