As discussed in Part 1 of “A Simple Plan to save America,” we need to involve citizens if we are going to create safe neighborhoods and communities. Crime increases as fear of becoming a victim increases. Americans who feel powerless have armed themselves with 400,000,000 guns, which tells us, we need a new strategy to reduce fear.
City leaders and non-profit groups should get together to consider establishing a training center for “Neighborhood Safety Experts” who look like and speak the language of the community. Trained citizens bring neighbors together to reduce fear and social isolation to improve neighborhood health and safety. There are many benefits to strengthening neighbor support for each other:
- Involvement reduces social isolation. When neighbors know and trust each other, they take charge of the kids on the block and put a check and balance on negative juvenile behavior and gang violence.
- Involved neighbors can reduce the high cost of juvenile delinquency, graffiti, arson, and smash and grab juveniles.
- Improving communication helps neighbors become informed and less vulnerable.
- Strong family and neighborhood support help prevent drug abuse and child sex trafficking.
- Crime, violence, and shootings create distrust, anxiety, and anger and can create mental and physical health problems.
- When people know and trust a “Neighborhood Safety Expert,” they share information they would not tell the police, such as identifying drug dealers, child abusers, neglected kids, and illegal activities.
- Neighbors can be encouraged to work with newly released prisoners, immigrants, or inmates to help them assimilate into the neighborhood, reducing fear of the unknown.
- Involved neighbors with support from “Neighborhood Safe Experts” can reduce the need for additional police, saving taxpayers money.
- Citizens will feel safer and less likely to be suspicious of neighbors or buy guns for protection.
- Seniors can be encouraged to get involved to babysit, set up activities for youth or help with homework.
- When “Neighborhood Safety Experts” create a network of neighborhood leaders, police can send criminal descriptions to leaders who can contact all neighbors. Swift communication catches criminals faster and will reduce illegal activities.
- Neighborhood involvement creates new leaders at the grassroots who may become leaders on community boards, city committees, and politics.
- When we strengthen families and neighborhoods, citizens become more independent as they move away from government control.
- Support and education help citizens strengthen American democracy as they become involved, informed, and responsible for family and neighborhood safety.
As a former “Neighborhood Safety Expert” for 30 years, I’ve seen the power of “we the people” to make neighborhoods safe. Involvement creates a healthy balance between neighbors and police. When neighbors work together and take ownership, they decide what they will tolerate. Cities will save money, families will receive vital support, and everyone will live in safer, healthier cities.
Stephanie L. Mann, Founder, Safe Kids Now
Crime and Violence Prevention Consultant
Author, “Empowerment Parenting: How to raise resilient children who become happy, self-reliant adults.”