Selma needs a plan to combat violence

Published 10:26 pm Thursday, March 19, 2015

By Jerria Martin
The Selma Times-Journal

With the latest happenings in our city, it is painfully evident that we need an action plan to combat violence. The good news is that we are not alone. Several communities on a global level have united to focus on the issue.

As a matter of fact, in September 2011 there was a Global Campaign for a Violence Prevention Meeting that took place in Cape Town, South Africa. During the meeting, nearly 300 violence prevention experts from over 60 countries discussed progress and strategized the way ahead. They agreed on the need to identify a small set of policy, legal and program-delivery targets at national level towards which violence prevention efforts can be directed, and for a plan of action to unify their efforts.

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They explored how in cities with high levels of violence, economic growth can be slowed down, personal and collective security eroded, and social development impeded.

Regardless of what you’ve been told, violence is preventable. Evidence from high-income countries (HIC) and low-and middle-income countries (LMIC) shows strong relationships between levels of violence and potentially modifiable factors such as economic inequality; access to firearms; and poor monitoring and parental supervision of children.

It is a proven fact that levels of homicide, physical and sexual assault and intimate partner violence are influenced by social determinants such as poverty, economic inequality and unemployment, poor governance and social norms such as those related to gender and class. Changing the factors requires action by multiple sectors within a community, often with support from state and federal partners. It is therefore vital that cities acknowledge the link between violence and social determinants, and that wherever possible, violence prevention is integrated into strategies that address social determinants.

Researching this information has inspired me to begin writing programming for 21st Century to provide life skills training to promote access to evidence-informed life- and social skills training strategies for high-risk children and adolescents; and new programming for my Circle of Hope Women’s Jail Ministry that will focus on parenting support, to promote access to evidence-informed parenting support strategies and resources for high-risk parents.

Let’s continue to believe in God, in one another, and in Selma. Let us trust in God’s plan for our city and become His faithful servants as we tackle violence and the underlying issues together. I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to all of the families of the recent victims of acts of violence in our city. Their deaths will not be in vain. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.