Why do kids kill?
Americans are no longer shocked when a young man walks into a mall, neighborhood or school and shoots innocent people. We shake our heads in frustration as the national discussion narrows down to guns and mental health.
Passing gun control laws and building mental health facilities has limitations. We must address the root cause of violent behavior.
Today, 1 in 4 women are raising children in abusive relationships. Domestic violence and child abuse make it difficult for children to succeed in school.
Children learn to bully by observing adult behavior, while sensitive children can become victims. These children struggle to make friends and have difficulty succeeding in school.
Dysfunctional families put children at risk for addictions and mental disorders.
Mass shooters, gang bangers and youth in juvenile hall have something in common: They are socially isolated and emotionally immature.
All forms of abuse can prevent a child's positive emotional development as domestic violence continues from one generation to another.
Social isolation contributes to domestic violence and child abuse. Abusers try to isolate their victims. Criminals thrive in disconnected neighborhoods as violence increases. Neighbors can become mentally and physically ill due to stress.
Our streets are full of homeless people who were hit, whipped, beaten, sexually abused and neglected.
As teens, they blamed themselves and sink into depression, drugs or other addictions. They are isolated and may develop mental problems.
If social isolation continues, teens can shut down their conscience and blame society for their plight. Anger and rage can become the motivator and obsession.
A small percentage of youth feel justified and powerful when they kill others and/or themselves.
In Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" he writes about the town of Rosetta, Pa., where people died only of old age. Neighbors had strong connections with social groups, churches and each other, which created a safe, healthy community for everyone.
City leaders must focus on strengthening families, as social isolation is a community problem. A serious community problem.
The mayor can hire a facilitator and offer training. A volunteer ACTION Committee can focus on a citywide plan to strengthen families.
Religious leaders can "adopt a block" and offer listening circles to help neighbors heal from anger, stress, loss and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Civic groups can adopt a block and offer training, programs and speakers. Youth groups can conduct surveys and help bring neighbors together.
City leaders can end the social isolation that kills innocent children and keeps people in bondage behind locked doors.
We can no longer tolerate a few people destroying our cities. Responsible Americans must take control of neighborhood and child safety.
In the process, we will become united in a community effort to strengthen families, which will strengthen our democratic way of life.
Stephanie L. Mann is a crime and violence prevention specialist with Safe Kids Now (www.safekidsnow.com). She is a resident of Orinda.