Psychological Self-Help

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have trouble finding help with domestic violence, call the National
Organization for Victim's Assistance (NOVA) at 1-800-TRY-NOVA or 1-800-
879-6682. To find Women's Shelters in your area call the National Domestic
Violence Hot Line at 1-800-799-SAFE. 
Social-Educational Solutions to Violence
A major part of the violence problem in this country is that we, as
a people, have little faith that human aggression can be controlled.
Some people think aggression is some men's nature. Others believe
that dire circumstances lead some people to criminal and cruel
behavior. On the other hand, Lore and Schultz (1993) and Eron,
Gentry, & Schlegel (1995) make the point that violence can be
controlled. These researchers review the causes of violence, such as
guns and gangs. There is clear evidence that aggressive animals,
including humans, are able to inhibit their violence when it is beneficial
for them to stop it. Thus, they think it is a choice; it is optional! Yet,
extensive research hasn't proven that stiff laws inhibit murder and
assault. 
The long delayed, uncertain punishment threatened by our criminal
justice system hasn't worked well; at least the number in prison keeps
increasing. For one thing, violence is usually carefully hidden so the
law breaker won't be caught by the law much of the time. Moreover,
the rate of violence may be influenced by many more subtle social
factors--violence on TV, crime reports, empathy for the disadvantaged,
glorification of police work, and even going to war (our murder rate
goes up after a war, especially if we win). We must pay attention to
our social environment. For instance, action TV shows and films with a
lot of violence are immensely profitable to the film maker because
dramatic shows of this nature can be sold around the world. Every
culture understands a chase, a fight, and a little sex without a
translator. Psychologists have studied these kinds of influence.
My belief is that personal experience usually has much more powerful
emotional impact on my views than research (oh, yes, I rely a lot on
research findings because I can’t have personal experiences in all the
important areas of life). For example, I first saw serious poverty in
Korea—hungry families living in one room cardboard shacks with a tin
roof, wearing rags, and gathering greens along the roads to have
something to eat. Although I knew well the poverty of a farm hand
family in Indiana, I was exposed (about 20 feet away, through a
barbed wire fence) to poverty I hadn’t known before. I quickly became
impressed with the differences between their situation and mine (a
Marine Lieutenant); I started to wonder how could this difference in
poverty level exist…or, more accurately, how could such differences be
moral or right? I still wonder about that. Fifty years later, I have no
answer.
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