The following excerpt is from the self help
psychology book, Be Your Own Therapist.

Quick fix ideas proliferate. We keep trying to blame one group such as movies, television or macho males! But these are really minor players in the violence problem. Violent behavior is the result of many different problems: poor parenting, poor criminal conscience-building, poor self-esteem, loss of feeling, fear of being soft or vulnerable, rage at the wrong target, identification with a violent parent, incorporation of violent parental/ TV messages, etc. But the wealth of causes does not mean that significant societal changes cannot be accomplished. Some suggested strategies follow.

1. As described earlier in this chapter, we can reevaluate our current parenting. We need to stop teaching our children to be unhappy, we need to place more value on personal integrity and we need to reduce societal numbing. These are all major causes of the violence we see today.

2. We need many more free editorials on children's TV about personal values. What is right and wrong? Schools all over the country have recently found that commonly held values can be taught to students in school and that the groups involved (parents, school personnel and politicians) can come to agreements about what values should be taught. Without values, we tend to have low self-esteem that we hope to rectify by gaining power over another. It doesn't work. (While television and movie violence are current scapegoats for societal violence, it is doubtful that violence in these two media makes too much difference - see previous chapter.)

3. A similar suggestion to one I made in the last chapter (that children be given more authoritarian messages on television) is: I suggest that criminals in jail receive conscience-building messages over loudspeakers several times daily. "It is wrong to steal. It is wrong to harm someone else. It is wrong to rape. Etc." Many of today's criminals never received such clear messages as children, and there is much evidence today that we as adults can often heal ourselves by giving ourselves the healthy messages we never received as children. (Obviously, this would not reform most criminals but it could make a significant difference in number of crimes later committed.)

4. For neighborhoods that have been taken over by gangs or drugs, we need to mobilize the army, the national guard, the marines and neighboring police forces to saturate such neighborhoods with good guys for a few weeks or months. The non-police don't have to do police work. They just have to essentially camp out so that the bad guys depart or lie low. Let the citizens come together in such safer circumstances, and they will then become much more effective combating any future takeover attempts of their neighborhood by gangs or drug dealers. Citizens will be out in force with video cameras and be much more assertive toward those with criminal tendencies once they experience a safer neighborhood. And those involved in criminal activities may change some of their behavior. Witness the gangs in Los Angeles who stopped killing one another for a time after the riots triggered by the Rodney King bashing verdict. (Yes, I know there were many influences that caused that gang change, but the presence of temporary added neighborhood safety for citizens had much to do with citizen pressure on those gangs to change.)

I so desire to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end when I come to lay down the reins of power, I shall have lost every friend on earth, I shall have at least one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside me..... Abraham Lincoln

5. Every state needs to study the current Hawaiian social service system, which seems to have eliminated almost all child abuse in those families serviced. The Hawaiian program is based upon training and educating parents. If your spouse is abusing you or your children (or you are), then you need to take action. Take that action now - call the authorities, get help and press all appropriate charges. Even if you and your children survive the current abuse, your children as grownups will probably be violent themselves or suffer violence from others unless you take action now. Over years, abuse often follows a well-known increasingly-violent pattern starting with physical threats, then hitting, beating up, weapons use and finally murder. Stop the cycle early, while there is still a chance for yourself and your children.

6. We all need to understand the role of hatred, its virtual universality in small children, and the skewed emergence of child hatred against targets of today. We will not be effective in dealing with others' violence while there is so much child violence within most of us. Denying our hatreds was part of our learned numbing process as children. Whatever we have numbed can erupt in violence whenever it gets triggered.

7. It seems to me that the psychological skewness of the hot debate about weapons has to do with self-esteem. Those wanting weapons often feel weak but are unable to admit it, or they have a very unhappy belief about how unsafe the world is (see Chapter 11). Despite the current impasse, the gun situation in this society seems about to change dramatically. For as the years have passed, more and more people have come to believe in stricter and stricter gun control. With every newly reported mass murder and family murder- suicide, the opposed-to-weapons trend in the polls accelerates. The message of "when weapons are outlawed, only outlaws will have weapons" is an attempt to spread a fear message to others. The answer to that, of course, is, "But outlaws will have fewer weapons, and fewer lives will be lost." Those opposing weapons are not always neurosis-free either, in their opposition to weapons. For some are playing the victim role and are lacking in self-esteem and a spiritual system that can provide inner peace. Nevertheless, fewer lives would be lost, and we would have much less societal fear if strict weapon control were enacted. Clearly this would change the levels of societal violence, perhaps not dramatically but significantly.

8. The role that governments (at all levels) play in raising the levels of violence should not be underestimated. We as a society, with present levels of funding, can promise and provide necessary basic levels of food, clothing, personal shelter (warm, dry and safe), and medical care to all citizens. Doing so would change the level of societal violence significantly because fears of being hungry, sick or in physical danger would be significantly eased.

9. So-called spiritual values that consider humans to be essentially evil/ flawed still contribute heavily to our problems with violence. People who believe they are evil will act that way. Similarly, violence is promoted by the unhappy psychological notion that we are raging cauldrons that need capping. While one often finds rage and violence beneath our surfaces, it has been my experience that rage and violence are absent once childhood issues have been faced and resolved (see chapter 10).

To sum up, there are many choices we as a society can make to significantly reduce our societal violence. To some degree, we are all causing today's violence because we are avoiding some difficult personal choices. Let's make the hard choices!

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