This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Justin Stoler on the Linkages Between Violence, Poverty and Policy

Thanks to Tom Boswell for pointing me to an Op-Ed in today's Miami Herald by Justin Stoler and Tanya Zakrison. They build on a research article published earlier this year on gun violence in Miami to lay out the path for creating community change that can, in particular, replace guns with jobs. What a concept! Here are some highlights:

Gun violence has become a silent epidemic among select Miami-Dade communities, leading to hundreds of intentional injuries every year. We call it “silent” because most of the burden is borne by just a handful of communities — ones that have been marginalized for decades.
How did this happen? Surely analysis of other hospital records and police reports would show the same trends, though gun violence research has been stifled for years by the gun lobby’s efforts to limit the collection of gun-related data. But social issues such as race and poverty — long embedded in Miami politics — have deprived many communities of resources needed to strengthen communities from within. This has created a legacy of structural violence — the avoidable impairment of fundamental human needs — that has led to an entire generation of impoverished youth for whom violence and the “code of the street” are a way of life, while remaining invisible to those in power.
A truly holistic response to gun violence requires a multipronged approach to ending the school-to-prison pipeline. We need basic food security, hands-on youth mentoring and educational programs, and economic opportunities that offer parents meaningful employment and that allow leisure time to care for their children. Most of all, we also need to work with organizations in affected communities (churches, schools, social service providers) to understand and prioritize their needs. These organizations stand ready and willing to promote proud messages of empowerment with local law enforcement as community partners, not enforcers of an unjust status quo.
We need a society--and communities within that society--where it is easier to get a job than a gun. 

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