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  • Nick Luhring

Want to Reduce Violence?

The NEAR Act has the Prescription.

Science is an amazing thing. Not only can it send us to the moon, develop treatments for cancer, and burgeon new technologies, but it can also systematically reduce violence of all kinds. This is the science of the Public Health approach to dealing with gun violence in urban areas and beyond. It contrasts with the traditional model of law enforcement and mass incarceration, which does not result in the reduction of violence, but merely satisfies the human urge for revenge and retribution.

The Public Health approach has been sweeping the country, with several instances of the same basic model of community engagement in places like New York and California. Imagine a holistic approach to reducing violence where mental and behavioral specialists work with government officials and members of law enforcement to engage with the community to positively impact the lives of those effected by violence. The results will speak for themselves:

In our Nation’s Capital, an approach like this has already been used with tremendous success, and now it is being taken up with greater scope by the city government in the form of the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act, which was passed unanimously in 2016. The status of its implementation is so far incomplete, but the progress being made is intent on longevity. The Safer, Stronger DC website has a great overview:

It harkens back to ROOT, Inc.’s very own Community in Action program, that was developed to reduce violence with the help of the science of psychology. From some of our own literature: “The ROOT Inc. Community in Action/Guns Aside Initiative can provide a holistic approach by addressing the problem using a grassroots strategy of our Community in Action model. This entails engaging the community and developing alliances within the community to proactively promote a sense of stability within the community. The opportunities for the youth and their families to have access to recreational, youth-centered activities, mental health services, tutoring, mentoring, physical education, life skills development, substance abuse counseling, and other services foster a sense of empowerment.”

To the ROOT causes of violence we go and soldier on until this terrible crisis of gun violence is eliminated.


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