In light of recent news here in London, this past week, when more than 6 young men were stabbed at Hackney central station and in the capital, I want to lend my professional perspective on the subject, raise awareness to the conditions, stigmas, and suggest possible resolutions to help decrease the bloodshed. the shock of this largely preventable condition.
Here are just a few staggering statistics, keeping in mind that behind every statistic is a human being.
Most parts of the world are safer than ever before, and at the same time, others record the most violence that human history has ever seen.
- Violence causes more than 1.6 million deaths worldwide every year
- 2% of all human deaths have been the result of us killing each other,
while many are inured by the presence of violence.
- Homicide is the 5th most common cause of death in all age brackets
between 1 to 44 years old.
- 9 out of 10 people in prison for violent crimes are men.
- Men die from homicide 3X the rate of women.
Defining Violence and Abuse
Violence and other forms of abuse are most commonly understood as patterns of behaviour intended to establish and maintain control over family, household members, intimate partners, colleagues, individuals, communities or groups. While violent offenders are most often know their victims (intimate or estranged partners and spouses, family members, relatives, peers, colleagues, etc.), acts of violence and abuse may also be committed by strangers.
- 35% of women worldwide reported experiencing violence in their lifetime, whether physical, sexual, or both.
- 1 in 10 girls under the age of 18 was forced to have sex.
- 38% of women who are murdered are killed by their partners.
Violence and abuse may occur only once, can involve various tactics of subtle manipulation or may occur frequently while escalating over a period of months or years.
Violence and abuse are used to establish and maintain power and control over another person, and often reflect an imbalance of power between the victim and the abuser. Fear and the struggle for control and power being at the root of most forms of violence.
General Forms of Violence and Abuse:
- Verbal Abuse
- Financial Abuse
We are left to ask Why? We cannot hope to control violence if we are bewildered by it.
Mixing together all forms of violence in an attempt to find a common denominator has created the struggle to comprehend a school shooting, or worshipers slaughtered inside a church, or violence committed in a robbery, or the everyday violence of drunken brawls, domestic violence, or deadly road rage. Each of these violent acts can be understood as specific behaviors that are controlled, as are all behaviors.
Patients who are violent are not a ‘homogenous group’, and their violence reflects various biologic, psychodynamic, and social factors. Most researchers and clinicians agree that a combination of factors plays a role in violence and aggression, although there are differing opinions regarding the importance of individual factors.
Like most primates, humans evolved to be violent to one another. The biology of anger and aggression is the root cause of most violent behavior. While lethal violence may be part of our individual genetic disposition, it can be said it’s mostly governed by the evolution of our societies and the groups within them. We are on the brink of a new understanding of the neuroscience of violence. “We cannot change the biology of our brain, but if we choose to, we can comprehend it at the same level of detail that we comprehend the biology of a human heartbeat.”
Most of the time the neural circuits of aggression are life-saving, as when a mother instantly reacts aggressively to protect her child in danger, but sometimes they misfire and violence explodes inappropriately.
Triggers of Rage. The pressures of modern life.
High-speed transportation and communication increase opportunities for conflict among different groups of people, while access to ‘weapons of violence amplify the lethal effects of even one enraged mind.’
Hackney mayoral candidate Pauline Pearce said the recent stabbings and shootings were partly a result the children feeling disenfranchised. “They don’t feel they belong, they haven’t really got a meaning – they don’t feel that they have that connection to society, so a lot of things go wrong for them and sadly this is the sort of retaliation that comes.” This observation lends to the notion that the root of most forms of violence are founded in the many types of inequality which continue to exist and grow in society. The rates of violence have been seen to increase with lower education, less social stability, and in regions with high rates of unemployment. Others view the incidents of violence as a learned behavior associated with social norms and external factors, an example in the music which glorifies the behavior.
Whether you view the incidents of violence as genetic or socio factors, the evidence is there that the human brain is struggling to cope with an environment it was never designed to confront.
What about violence and mental health?
Violence in the context of mental illness has been sensationalized, increasing the stigma around the mental health community. The perception brings dire consequences for many mentally challenged patients, increasing discrimination and causing isolation from society, aiding in homelessness.
Violence has serious implications for society and the mental health community. We as a society need to view these incidents on a broader scale and conclude from information provided by ample research that individuals with mental illness, when appropriately treated and cared for, do not pose any increased risk of violence over the general population. That being said, I stress the need for appropriate treatment of such individuals. We can no longer let the mentally ill fall through the cracks or remain in this cycle of treatment-relapse-treatment and being inappropriately cared for.
Mental Health Factors.
- Threatened Security
- History of Abuse
- Perceived Inequities
What can be done about it?
It can be said that violence is not driven by reason, it is driven by rage, yet violence is a choice, and therefore can be preventable.
So where do we turn our attention?
As we look to protect our communities by decreasing homicides by shootings and beyond, we need to increase education to amplify awareness for all communities to support their neighbors by helping to achieve a higher quality of life as protection from feeling vulnerable and disenfranchised by their environments, including the mentally ill.
Who has the Answers?
Is the answer in educating protest organizers like G.A.N.G.? The protest organisers: Guiding a New Generation (G.A.N.G.) shared their stories and pleaded with residence for an end to the killings experienced last month in London. Lead organiser said, “We are trying to guide these children to let them know that their life is not going in the right direction. I want to say to them this is not the life… they are being sold a false narrative – and we are here to change that narrative for them.”
Fortunately, the financial evidence exists, where research has indicated that investing early to prevent conflicts from escalating into violent crises is 60X more cost effective than intervening after violence erupts. Therefore allocating funding toward prevention measures, programs and trainings can yield positive results toward making a change in the global violence statistics.
Examples of Studies in Schools.
Life Skills Training showed a 42% reduction in physical and verbal youth violence as well as a witnessed 40% reduction in psychological distress, including stress, anxiety and depression.
Mindfulness Practices. With the implementation of a meditation/ mindfulness practice called “Quiet Time,” some of the toughest schools are reporting suspensions decreased by 79%, attendance increased to over 98%, and academic performance noticeably increasing.
I encourage you to stay connected and deepen your community care connections. Find out your viable resources. Reach out to me. Sign up for our monthly newsletter, to be notified of our upcoming bogs, events and more. Know you are surrounded by caring professionals and neighbors who want to come to your aid and the betterment of your surrounding communities and beyond.
It is my hope that this blog aids in the recognition and management of dangerous behaviors and minimize risk to communities across generations to come.
In good mental health,
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686644/ https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/protesters-call-for-end-to-londons- surge-in-bloodshed-as-six-more-young-men-stabbed-within-90- a3807106.html