January 16, 2015 – What causes young inner-city men to kill each other?
Where do we start? At the root causes of poverty, discrimination, family breakdown, childhood toxic stress? With concrete societal failings such as bad schools, unsafe housing, lack of health care and few jobs? With a gang culture that accords respect to those who commit brutal crimes and serve long prison terms? With the easy availability of guns?
All contribute. But we can’t wait until we solve these enormous problems to keep young men alive. “Maybe you don’t have to solve poverty,” said Sara Heller, an assistant professor of criminology at the University of Pennsylvania. “Maybe you can attack more proximal causes. So much violence comes out of arguments. If you can get a kid to look away instead of throwing the first punch, you can avoid violence.”