EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Ours is a violent society

2014-06-08T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Ours is a violent societyBy Terry McCullough nwitimes.com
June 08, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Every day the news is filled with reports of all different kind of senseless violent acts ranging from mothers killing their babies, to random shootings that snuff out the lives of innocent bystanders. What worries me is that that so much of the violence is being blamed on gang activity. The fact of the matter is we are a violent society.

Our country began with violence. A great many of this nation’s settlers were people banished from other countries because they just could not follow the rules of a civilized society.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acts of violence kill more people ages 1–44 in the United States than any other cause. Violence and injuries cost more than $406 billion in medical care and lost productivity each year.

Violence is not just shootings, however. It includes the demonstration of hostility and anger with the aim of harming or injuring others or someone's property via physical force. Violent acts take on many forms and can be found in home, school, work and community environments with the tendency toward violent attitudes and behaviors clearly nurtured within the home.

Here are just a few that can be considered acts of violence.

Within the home environment: Parents constantly cursing at their children, children witnessing arguments and violence between their parents and siblings, sexual abuse of children and excessive physical and/or verbal discipline.

Violence against children and youth is all too common. It is likely you have heard stories of people whose lives have been touched by violence: A child seriously injured at the hands of a parent. A teenager involved in an abusive dating relationship. A youth shot and killed after an argument with another teen.

School environment: Bullying at school by administrators, teachers and other students. A National Education Association report an estimated 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. American schools harbor about 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million of their victims.

The National School Safety Center reports:

  • 1 in 7 students in grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.
  • 56 percent of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.
  • 15 percent of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school.
  • 71 percent of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.
  • 1 out of 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.
  • 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.

Within our community environments examples of violence include police brutality. According to the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, of all 1,575 officers involved in reported excessive force complaints, 897 (56.9 percent) were involved in cases of physical use of force complaints which include fist strikes, throws, choke holds, baton strikes and other physical attacks. 232 officers (14.7 percent) were involved in firearm-related excessive force complaints, 166 (10.6 percent) were involved in Taser-related cases, and the remaining officers were involved in other cases involving a combination of force types (13.21 percent), use of police dogs (1.7 percent), police vehicles (0.4 percent), and chemical weapons (2.4 percent). The list goes on and on.

If we are to prevent violence, it seems our society needs an overhaul.

Terry McCullough is executive director of the Thornton Township Youth Committee Program. The opinions are the writer's.

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