Preventing Violent Crimes in Louisiana: Where Do We Start?

It is impossible to ignore the increased amount of violence in Baton Rouge, our state and our nation.  Newspaper headlines, social networks, and television news stations are inundated with reports of senseless violence occurring in every town—especially in places where violent crimes have typically been rare.  In addition to the numerous reports of increased domestic disputes, armed robberies, rapes, and assaults, Baton Rouge drew national attention recently for our alarming murder rates.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Baton Rouge has, “already seen at least 10 more murders this years as compared to this time in 2011.”  In an interview with Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore, he expressed hopes that the article will generate, “more discussion about the crime that we see and really, it’s like the article said, most of these offenses are over complete nonsense and they can be avoided.”

What are possible causes for this violence?

The National Campaign to Stop Violence, ran by D.C. attorney Dan Callister and supported by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jack Anderson, interviewed youth all over the nation’s most violent neighborhoods to find out why they believe violence is so rampant. Their responses echo what many state and community leaders believe to be the most common reasons for violence.

Top 10 Causes of Violence in the Order that Children Cited Them

  1.  The Media
  2. Substance Abuse
  3. Gangs
  4. Unemployment
  5. Weapons
  6. Poverty
  7. Peer Pressure
  8. Broken Homes
  9. Poor Family Environment/Bad Neighborhoods
  10. Intolerance / Ignorance

Although the subject of violence and the underlying causes is complex and has many explanations, if we look at this list, it makes sense that increases in any of the 10 noted reasons would increase the odds for violent crimes to be committed. Think about the number of factors listed above our nation is currently experiencing. And now think about which ones our state and Baton Rouge in particular are experiencing.

For a comprehensive look at crime rates in Louisiana by parish, click on the link

Are there resources we can look to for help?

Despite the differences in the amount/severity of violent crimes in each region of the state/nation, everyone is in agreement that violence is preventable. The Prevention Institute, in conjunction with Urban Networks To Increase Thriving Youth (UNITY), are focusing all of their efforts on community-based prevention work plans, mentioning big ideas like focusing on addressing environmental factors and societal norms that contribute to its occurrence in the first place, and shifting the primary focus to promoting healthy behaviors instead of punishing unhealthy behaviors after-the-fact.  In a nutshell, the approach is to be proactive instead of reactive. Attached is a helpful link to review their plan to achieve overall community well-being including preventing child abuse.

Additionally, the UNITY group has put together a roadmap for success for communities and created detailed fact sheets on the impact of violence on chronic illness, mental health, student learning, and more.

Looking at the information the experts are communicating about violence, it is clear that it takes a network of collaboration to solve the problem. Considering all of the facts and resources presented above, what do you think it will take to initiate change in Louisiana? Baton Rouge?  Are the plans mentioned above relevant and helpful to our city? How can we be more effective in reducing our violent crime rates? Are there groups we can become involved in that are making a difference? We need to give these questions considerable thought.

The problem is far from being solved, but the message is clear that we need to all play a role in educating ourselves, being aware of the stark reality, and learning what we need to do to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

References and Helpful Links:

Top 10 Causes of Violence

Violence as a Public Health Issue

Baton Rouge Murder Rate Gets National Attention