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Safe Kids Now

A National Network

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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Stephanie L. Mann: Crime and Violence Prevention Consultant

Neighborhood Watch Pioneer - Co-Author, "Alternative to Fear: Guidelines for safer neighborhoods” (1975) which helped launch “Neighborhood Watch.”
Author: “Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhood: Stopping Crime Where You Live” (1993) 
Author: “Street Safe Kids: 10 step guide to empower youth to stay centered and develop self-esteem.” (2000)
Author: “The Adopt-A-Block Guidebook: 10 steps to a safe and healthy neighborhood.” (2010)

Stephanie answers questions….

 

 

  1. Police are cutting officers to balance budgets.  Will crime rise as a result?

In some areas, crime will increase but police will continue to focus on “hot spot” areas to keep crime under control.  Once the police make arrests it is up to citizens to take charge of neighborhood safety to prevent the “bad guys” from returning.

What can we do? This is an opportunity for every resident to get involved to protect families and children.  Budget cuts mean citizens must assume more responsibility by banding together and learning how to be part of the solution.  Individuals, church and civic groups can discover THEY have the power to reduce crime and keep neighborhoods safe.

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  1. Can we REALLY stop violence?

Absolutely!  Each one of us must speak-up and help stop bully behavior within our families and neighborhoods. (e.g. one in four women are in abusive relationships).  Adults who bully their partners are training children to bully or be a victim.  If no one intervenes, the bully grows stronger with approval from immature peers.

A charismatic bully gathers followers who instill fear and see manipulation as normal behavior. Without direction, bullies and their followers can become destructive gangs, fighting rivals for power, women and territory.

What can we do?  Children need supportive families and neighbors to help them discover their potential. They need to be heard and accepted to develop positive connection to their community.  When children feel respected, they do not destroy neighborhoods (arson, vandalism, graffiti). To break the cycle of violence, community leaders need to promote neighborhood involvement to help reduce social isolation that fuels destructive behavior. Cohesive neighborhoods offer children a sense of belonging.  Building trust allows neighbors to correct bad behavior BEFORE youth get out of control.

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  1. Why can’t the police do more to protect us?

Cities are struggling and cutting budgets. The national average is 2.5 police officers for every 1000 citizens.  It is unrealistic to assume the police can protect you.  Police react to crime--they cannot change behavior. If citizens don’t report criminal behavior, neighborhoods are not safe.

What can we do?  Connected neighbors are your best protection. It is a citizen’s responsibility to keep neighborhoods safe. Community leaders need to inform residents to form a small committee.  Neighbors can meet, appoint a leader and schedule meetings. They can invite knowledgeable people to participate, as needed. Involved neighbors can address issues like lighting, potholes, loud music, barking dogs and bullies on the block.  A volunteer mediation panel can work with neighbors to solve neighborhood disputes. Police should be invited to address safety issues.

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  1. Is crime caused by poverty?

No, I have worked in our inner cities over 35 years.  Most poor people ARE NOT criminals. They care about safety and struggle to provide for their families. If we assume poverty is the problem, we fail to address the fear and social isolation that allows gangs, prostitution and drug dealers to control neighborhoods. 

What can we do? There are churches on every other corner in American cities.  Community leaders can encourage church leaders to reach out and help reduce fear. Preachers continue to promote, “Love thy Neighbor.” Members of congregations know and trust each other, which give them an advantage as they go door-to-door to determine needs.  Neighbors can help protect churches from vandals. (See: “The Adopt-A-Block Guidebook” on website)

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  1. Does violence directly correspond with lack of jobs?

No, that is a symptom of a failing community with vulnerable families who lack neighborhood support. Lack of jobs may mean businesses have moved away because theft, vandalism, shoplifting and street crime made it impossible for businesses to succeed. 

What can we do? Businesses, civic and church groups can promote neighborhood involvement and offer support.  They can provide a safe place to meet, help with a neighborhood newsletter, sponsor a safety fair or block party. A safe neighborhood offers youth a place to observe positive role models rather than gangs and drug dealers looking for disconnected kids.  Supportive adults can become mentors for youth as they serve the needs of neighbors.  Businesses will return with jobs and opportunities when they see positive change.

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  1. Is violence related to the availability of guns?

Guns are a way for people to feel safer.  The proliferation of guns is a symptom of social isolation and unmet needs. Many Americans buy guns because they feel threatened while gangs buy guns for power and control.

What can we do? Number one priority…community leaders need to focus on bringing neighbors together. Connected families create safe neighborhoods and provide an alternative to guns.

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  1. What’s the biggest problem affecting our youth?

Many children feel disconnected and do not know how to handle their emotions (e.g. anger, loneliness, temptation, guilt, fear, revenge).  Growing strong from within can keep children safe and healthy. The “me” generation has taught children to feel entitled with an inflated ego (e.g. “I can handle problems.”) The consequences for families and communities have been staggering. Many young people take drugs or engage in sexual activity to feel good.  Children bully each other, drop out of school or turn to gangs at an alarming rate.  The combination of not knowing how to discover your spiritual center and being socially disconnected has destroyed a generation.  The media, TV, movies, Hollywood “stars” reinforce the “me” approach to life.

What can we do? Family members who teach children how to develop a healthy balance between ego and spirit can reach their potential in life.  The ego is about the individual… my needs.  The inner spirit is about self-awareness and serving the needs of others.  To help a child reach their potential it is up to mature adults to correct bad behavior and help potential victims develop self-worth.  Children need guidance and encouragement to become self-confident and resilient.
 

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  1. Can we really stop crime?

Yes! Crime involves a small percentage of the population. We can prevent crime if families and community leaders focus on individual responsibility for behavior and safety. 

What can we do? Encourage family, friends and neighbors to stop tolerating bad behavior. 
            1. Evaluate what is going on in your own family and have honest discussions about bullies and their victims.  Make it clear that your family will not tolerated abusive behavior at home, at school or in our neighborhood.  Also seek help for anyone who is mentally, physically or sexually abused.  
2. Take a stand against bully behavior and speak up. Encourage “pin cushion” (e.g. sensitive, potential victims) kids to make a statement to a bully, such as “stop it” and walk away.  Enlist the help of friends and report bad behavior.  
3. Get to know all your neighbors and give them permission to correct your child should he or she misbehave.  Parents and caregivers must be the first to know if a child is struggling or making bad choices, not the last to find out.

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  1. What is the best way to stay safe?

Don’t assume the police will arrive when you call.  Don’t assume locks, a dog, a camera or an alarm system will keep you safe. They can help but everyone needs to create a network of trusted neighbors to call on for help.

What we can do? Be the example for children. Have good communication with children by asking questions and being a good listener. Teach them to trust their instincts and intuition.  Speak-up to end any abuse or seek help. Work with neighbors--they can be a great resource for safety, help, encouragement and support.  Together neighbors can solve problems and create a safe environment for everyone. (See: “Street Safe Kids: 10 steps to help children develop self-esteem and stay centered” on website.)

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  1.  Domestic violence affects everyone.  Teen dating violence has increase dramatically.  What do you suggest?

Most victims do not understand the cycle of abuse.  Bullies and manipulators seek power and control over others. If tolerated, their “love” goes from jealousy to controlling behavior.  As tensions increase, victims “walk on egg shells” to keep the peace.  Anger boils over… victim is hit, verbally abused or sexually assaulted.  The traumatized victim is confused as the cycle starts again with apologies and “hearts and flowers.” Abusers isolate their victims in order to maintain control.

What can we do? Victims, friends, family and neighbors must help victims break the cycle of abuse. Victims need support and encouragement to get free. Informed families and neighbors can stop the social isolation that allows abusive behavior to go unchecked.  
Take steps immediately:

  1. Get informed! Search the web for “domestic violence” or “dating violence.”
  2. Seek help from a domestic violence organization.
  3. Get family members together to create a plan.
  4. Report domestic violence to the police.

To help prevent domestic violence: Find out if your school offers classes on conflict resolution. Consider starting an anger management group at your house of worship. 

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  1. What can we do about drug dealers and gangs?

Disconnected neighbors are an invitation for drug dealers, gangs and hate groups to recruit lost youth.  Criminals look for people living in fear. Drug dealers and gang members become the benevolent “friend” who provides gifts and offers help.  They spread rumors to instill fear of police. As “bad guys” win trust, neighbors become their source of protection. Crime escalates as neighbors sit behind locked doors.

What can we do? Our cities must have enlightened people willing to speak up, work with others and stop tolerating criminals.  Many people are working on neighborhood safety and empowering youth. Find out what is going on in your community and get involved. Start in your neighborhood by helping neighbors connect and becoming a neighborhood leader.  When dealers and gang members know the communities are organized, they move away.

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  1. What can we do about neglected children whose parents are not involved?

Too often we are dependent on government to fix our problems. We cannot ignore children whose parents are dependent on drugs or have been mentally, physically or sexually abusive. Many children do not have the emotional tools to make it alone and are often left confused, angry and lost.  Our jails and streets are full of lost souls who never had the care, love or education to become productive citizens.

What can we do? We need to restore community involvement and help citizens understand they have an awesome responsibility. Our children need to see results as involved adults take charge and change their neighborhoods.  The process will accelerate if civic and religious groups help citizens get connected.  Americans are awesome, when we understand the need.

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  1. What can we do to protect children from predators?

Today there are thousands of registered sex offenders and porn websites.  Our law enforcement agencies struggle to keep offenders under control with ankle monitors, registration and parole officers. Permissive sex has become entertainment.  It is up to mature men and women to work together to change the national message. 

What can we do? Empower youth and make them aware of any registered sex offenders in the area.  Role-play how you want them to respond if approached. Involved neighbors are children’s protection.  Get the facts because there are different categories of sex offenders by visiting, www.meganslaw.com. These are weak men who may have been neglected, abused or tormented in their youth. They pry on children to feel powerful, because children are the weakest members in society. Neighbors need to inform sex offenders to stay way from children.  Neighbors are respectful but on the alert.  Police and neighbors need to communicate.  Neighbors need to report suspicious activities.

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  1. Violence is spreading throughout the world with religious leaders blaming and attacking free societies.  What can be done?

Our freedoms are in jeopardy because our religious tolerance is being used against us.  “Freedom of Religion” has never been an excuse to abuse women, control others or silence individuals. 

What can we do? America must become the role model by growing strong from within and working together.  There is a huge difference between people controlled by religious leaders or government and a democratic society with people who are connected to each other to make their community safe.  Know and respect your neighbor is critical in a free society.  Americans must stop tolerating local crime and violence if we are to remain a free society.
 
A united community can keep gangs; hate groups, drug dealers, predators and potential terrorists in check, as they serve the needs of their children. 

Remember: Every juvenile delinquent, bully, abused victim, drug dealer, gang member, potential terrorist, school drop-out and child struggling to grow up with domestic violence…lives in somebody’s neighborhood.  Involved neighbors create safe, healthy neighborhoods for families to live and grow.

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Stephanie L. Mann, Crime and Violence Prevention Consultant
Safe Kids Now!
www.safekidsnow.com
safeneighborhoods@gmail.com

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  
Margaret Mead, Anthropologist

 

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