I wish to address the last 2 postings:
1) Adapted from a newspaper article published in a Caribbean island, 2003
Title: How much more?
Author: newspaper article
Date: Tuesday, 22 July 2003
2) Title: Reducing crime and violence: education versus harsh penalties
Author: B. Conrich, B. Potter, J. Robinson, writers from Cook Islands and
Date: Tuesday, 5 August 2003
What we are saying here is that it takes a village to raise a socially responsible child. As the cycles of violence, economic prosperity, spiritual awareness, etc. rise and fall in small communities and large, it is natural for most people to seek stability and speak of a better past, the good old days, and to worry about an uncertain future - a future that they fear will be the breakdown of their society. So what the writers to this forum want is an answer as to how they can break the present cycle of violence and what role does the family, community, and punishment play. The problem and the solution are complex, but not beyond understanding and implementation.
If the death penalty and threat of prison worked as a deterrent in free societies today (harsh punishments for all types of offences mainly exist in non-democratic societies) then why does America have the greatest prison population in the world. America has over 2 million people in prison (one out of every 142 citizens - a total of 25% of the world's prisoners) and the rates for crime and homicide are still increasing. In spite of the fact that so many criminals are already behind bars and that the United States has the laws, law enforcement personnel and courts to protect the citizens - the tough law and order system of the past 30 years is not working to protect America's society. So tougher laws and punishment are not the answer. Smarter laws, rehabilitation, and drug treatment can help take us in the right direction.
In today's world media (tv, film, rap music, magazines, comic books, video games, etc.) the gangster image has become glamorized - no longer is there any stigma of shame and failure to be jailed for criminal activity or to have a felony police record. The media, in an effort to increase their revenues, has focused mainly on the hypocrisy in our leadership (political, religious, business) and basically ignored the healthy role models represented by other leaders in society. They chose to ignore their own social responsibility . Unfortunately some young people in small island communities are influenced by all this and want to imitate the criminal heros. It is a struggle for the small island family and community to raise and educate their young under these conditions. If you can not maintain a community atmosphere where anti-social behavior results in becoming an outcast of society - then the young will believe they will be accepted under any conditions and that any kind of behavior is tolerable. Living on an island gives the community an extra option in dealing with those who do not subscribe to the morals and laws of the island - banishment. To send someone into exile (for whatever period of time) is humane punishment. It will teach a lesson to everyone and hopefully spare the community of the very few truely amoral and criminal people among the populace. Another thing to consider - when I lived on the island of Palau (Micronesia) they had stiff penalties for possession of a gun, or even a single bullet! Most glamorized violence involves guns - so remove the guns.
In summary - there are influences inside and outside the island community that promote harmony and violence. To understand what those influences are and to act constructively to bring more peace and less disruption to the community requires everyone's cooperation - top to bottom. Focus has to be on that which is in your control. The village needs to reenforce the foundations of moral behavior in the family, the schools, and in it's own honest behavior - for no generation will follow the rules of a hypocritical role model. The young are influenced more by what you do then what you say.
Brian R. Mommsen
5 August 2003
Just a note here about a subject I previously addressed on this forum, 'How Much More? (crime & violence)'. In my response I offered advice on using banishment as a tool to curb the growing problem of gangs and violence in the Island communities. Just today the Associated Press has published an article stating that many of the Native American Tribes of America are effectively using that very same method (banishment from the tribe and tribal lands) to stop the problem of gangs and violence in their communities. This is wisdom of the past, remembered and used again. Go to this web address to read the article: http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/01/02/banishing.indians.ap/index.html