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How To Make A Difference - Preventing Violence

Updated on April 9, 2014
Black eyes.
Black eyes. | Source

It is not always an easy or comfortable process but communication is one thing that the majority of us can use to prevent violence. We as human beings must stop allowing angry, threatening, violent, suspicious, and extremely anti-social behavior go unchecked whether we are a target or observer. While each case is unique, a large number of aggressors have shown these and other warning signs prior to creating negative or tragic situations. With silence from observers and targets, perpetrators can escape intervention or consequences until they do something worse than raise eyebrows. If the opportunity and responsibility to take some form of action ever falls into your lap, please lead by example.

Threatening, violent, suspicious, and very odd behaviors should be noted or reported to applicable authorities, doctors, and/or organizations. If needed, others should be warned of the behavior if the person has not actually committed an offense that could have them locked up. Further, the excuse of not being able to do anything until some harm has been done needs to be done away with. This (law in many places) allows even more people to cross paths with potentially dangerous types, even when the person has shown potential for violence or has already gotten away with it. If the person has committed an offense worthy of being locked up, put under observation, or committed, then so be it, there should be intervention or consequences.

Shame, fear, and simple reluctance to communicate about certain matters often keeps family members and friends from getting consistent help, committing them, or having them arrested. However, some private matters should not remain private if the person poses a danger to themselves or others. Trying to keep these types of problems a secret becomes an extreme burden and doing so often turns out to be the exact opposite of what the person and the community truly needs. People that live with these types or are related to them usually know their problems very well. Loved ones and others should not stand in the way or attempt to minimize whatever it is the person could potentially do or may have already done. When more people speak up and make wholehearted attempts at addressing and resolving the root causes of violence, we will see violent incidents decline.

Sig 550, standard issue to Swedish men in a country with low rates of gun violence.
Sig 550, standard issue to Swedish men in a country with low rates of gun violence. | Source

Others may actually enable these behaviors rather than correcting them, find help to resolve the issues, or prevent dangerous behavior. One recent example is the case of William Spengler. Spengler killed his own grandmother with a hammer roughly 30 years prior to his recent ambush of firefighters. In the process he also damaged/destroyed several neighbors' properties. He went to prison for his grandmother's death and was released nearly two decades later. It was also known that he hated his own sister that stayed in the other half of the family home. To bypass the required background check, a neighbor by the name of Dawn Ngyuen, bought the gun and ammo that Spengler used to ambush and kill firefighters. This occurred after he set fire to their home to lure in innocent victims. Two firefighters and Spengler's sister were killed before Spengler killed himself.

Another tragic example of a case where communication may have brought about intervention is the case of Adam and Nancy Lanza. With regard to Nancy Lanza, it is not my intent to smear the memory of someone that I am sure was a loving mother. What I will say is that there were 26 innocent people who lost their lives due to parental inaction. It has been reported through the media that Adam cut off contact with his father and spent the bulk of his time with his mother up until the massacre in Newtown, CT. When a child is a child, they are the responsibility of their parents and Adam remained with his mother into early adulthood. Long before Adam turned 18 it was clear to his parents that Adam was not functioning in a manner that would facilitate positive, beneficial interactions or his independence in society. Adam had some problems that could have been managed and improved upon by seeking and obtaining help.

Nancy kept quiet most of the time about Adam's issues and over the years, it appears she did not make the most difficult choices as a parent to get the assistance needed to ensure that Adam would work towards functioning and interacting with others in a more positive manner. This is what would have been best for him, her, and others. Shouldn't what's best for the child be put first? Yet, rather than allowing him to go through high school, she chose to home school him which may have worsened his extreme social aversions. While Adam may have had Aspbergers and/or autism, these things do not make people harm others. There was some other issue at work.

She spent the bulk of her time with him and doing things for him. Adam physically withdrew from touches and any possibility of being touched by others. He was extremely socially averse, refusing even the most minor eye contact and verbal exchanges with other humans (ie: Adam never looked at or spoke to his barber during 5 years of monthly visits). Apparently, mother chatted as if nothing was wrong and answered questions for him. In many instances, his behavior simply cannot be classified or minimized as just being reserved or shy. She also made the mistake of attempting to "bond" with Adam through shooting guns with a child that distanced himself from other humans as much as possible. Despite this, Nancy also chose to store guns and ammo into her home rather than focus on what was best and safest for her child, herself, and the community. There were many signs that the mother's route was not working yet she stayed the course to the detriment of many.

Brick
Brick | Source

Many people "don't want to cause trouble" or "get involved." However, preventing violence does not always have to involve confronting the person and it's preferable to not confront them especially when there is any reason to believe they are or could become violent. To help the individual and the community at large, you don't have to personally go up to them and confront them or speak to them. Communicating with local agencies and organizations may bring a resolution and help get the person onto a healthier, more positive, and beneficial path before it's too late. If you are close to the family and believe that they may listen to your concerns, discuss them via phone or by any means that are safest for you.

Not sharing concerns with parents, police, school administrators, friends, neighbors, or employers and the like can enable various acts of violence to take place. Whether it be domestic abuse, a mental health issue, vengeance, stalking, or anything else. For those in domestic abuse situations, they must take things seriously and get out while they still can. Even if this means losing part or all of the household income or material possessions, personal safety should be more valued than staying and this even more important when children are involved. Children in these situations have a tendency to become victims, abusers, or both. There may be shelters, safe houses, co-workers, friends, family, charities, or social service agencies that can help. There are even some employers that may also be able to help. But, silence will not bring a positive change and can actually allow more harm to take place.

In other situations such as at work, school, in public, calling local or state agencies to warn them and ask if there is anything that can be done to help the person or the community at large is an option. Some private and non-profit organizations may be able to help you intervene or help you if you are a victim. Notifying the person's friends and family is also an option that must not be overlooked. Yes, it is very difficult to tell someone's family that you believe their relative to be a threat to themselves and/or others, yet this conversation can potentially head off even more difficult circumstances and conversations later.

Being proactive and alerting police to mental health, and/or drug issues may be a necessary move even in cases where the person cannot be arrested or committed. Doing this can create a paper trail and can provide police enough info to react slightly differently, yet more effectively if they are called with info identifying the person in the future. If banning the person from the premises is possible and necessary, do so.

Bokken
Bokken | Source

More parents need to be parents, no excuses. Parents must be more active in their children's lives and teach them to respect themselves and others. This is in addition to teaching morals, ethics, and hard work. Also, a large number of parents are absentee or are friends rather than actually being parents and mentors to the lives they have created. Parents should should set clear expectations, morals, goals, and teach their children that there are consequences for bad behavior. Most importantly, parents need to "walk the walk" and be their children's mentors.

Parents also need to make sure their children spend time with other children that are respectful, have morals, and are ethical. This takes effort on the parents' part to get to know their children's friends and families but it is well worth it. Parents should clearly approve or disapprove of their children's friends. If their children exhibit problems, they must seek help no matter what. If they can't afford it, they should still seek it through local, state, and federal agencies. If the people, churches, organizations, non-profits, and agencies that are approached do not or are unable to help, parents and concerned citizens need to keep calling attention to the issue and asking for assistance until they get whatever help or intervention is needed...period.

Shuriken
Shuriken | Source

With communication and sometimes other efforts, violence can be prevented. Silence aids and may exacerbate violence in some cases. When attacked or abused, getting out of the situation and staying out of the situation is of the utmost importance as is reporting all incidents. If you are not being listened to when seeking help for yourself or someone else, remember that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Telling others in a position to help that there is a problem with a person or that there has been a threat made by them might be difficult but it is necessary not only for those on the receiving end but also the source and bystanders. Even more difficult would be living your life knowing that you did not do as much as you could have to address, intervene, or resolve the issue if the person actually went on to harm or kill themselves or others. If the opportunity and responsibility to take some form of action ever falls into your lap, please lead by example.

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    • Express10 profile image
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      H C Palting 3 years ago from East Coast

      That's the best way to do it however, if one ever finds themselves in imminent danger or bodily harm, it is generally understood that they have every right to defend themselves. Very good that you were able to use your brain and words instead.

    • DChance2 profile image

      DChance 3 years ago

      I want you to know that I didn't use violence. I used my communication skills and my brain to outsmart people.

    • Express10 profile image
      Author

      H C Palting 3 years ago from East Coast

      You hit the nail on the head DChance2. You took action, ignoring a problem does nothing to resolve the problem. Letting it go implies that the aggressor hasn't done anything that causes pain or any other negative consequences for target/victim. I'm glad that you took action for yourself. Those who told you to "let it go" or ignore it were very wrong.

    • DChance2 profile image

      DChance 3 years ago

      Mental abuse is hard to report. I was always told to let it go or ignore it. Things will get better. The thing is I had to make things get better on my own.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 4 years ago from Fontana

      Express10 I am so glad to see this article. I have been in turmoil for the past 2 years. I have an elderly relative that is being abused by her son. The whole family knows about it but can't do anything. I know adult protective services might be able to help. I don't want to call and they find that everything's ok. That would be pure tragedy. This article reminded me that I need to search the state site for the hotline.

    • Express10 profile image
      Author

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks so much for reading LoveOfNight. Communication could improve or even save so many lives yet, many are either unable or unwilling to communicate their problems or concerns. Not allowing things to escalate is very important as a number of headlines over the past year can attest to.

    • loveofnight profile image

      loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      we do have to keep our eyes wide open to the mounting unrest going on around us and in some cases just under our nose. reaching out to others for help should never be something that we dismiss because of fear or shame. you have made a lot of good points here. I pray that others reading this pass this information on as I will, it may give others the strength that they need in order to save a life.

    • Express10 profile image
      Author

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks so much Anglnwu. Many times we try to not overstep imaginary or even real boundaries, preferring to not get involved or leave the tough tasks to someone else. But, there are some occasions when speaking up or trying to intervene can make a difference, preferably before the person harms themselves or others. Thanks again for reading.

    • anglnwu profile image

      anglnwu 4 years ago

      Your hub is very timely in the light of what's happening. I agree that openness, discussion and addressing issues related to violence help. Thanks for sharing .

    • Express10 profile image
      Author

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      Hi LaThing, I am glad you could take some time to read this. There are so many issues at play in violence of various types but fear of discussing, intervening, or addressing it (and the potential for it) can prolong it's duration and can allow the problem to worsen.

    • Express10 profile image
      Author

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks so much for reading this. I know that it's not always possible to prevent violence but very often there are clear and visible issues. Some take heed and act while others don't. More of us should.

    • LaThing profile image

      LaThing 4 years ago from From a World Within, USA

      I agree with all the above comments, and Frank, you are absolutely right, this has to be shared! Voting up and everything.....

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      This is a must read hub voted up and shared and pinned..:)

    • Express10 profile image
      Author

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      So glad you stopped by Dianetrotter. Some abusers are skilled at manipulation and other tactics to have only their needs met. You are correct, many simply deny that it's happening or make it a secret that could dearly cost them and any children involved.

    • dianetrotter profile image

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 4 years ago from Fontana

      Women should always be aware of men that want to isolate them from their friends and family. Unfortunately, they usually deny it when friends see the signs and tell them what is going on.

    • Express10 profile image
      Author

      H C Palting 4 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks for your insight, you hit the nail right on the head.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I agree with you of course. Unless we are talking about some sort of mental imbalance, most violent characteristics are learned at home. If we could somehow teach parents parenting skills....but then we are into that whole area of social ills that may never be solved...we have so many social problems in this country that it seems overwhelming at times.