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Ending the Cycle 

Preventing violence at its root causes

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It takes a village to raise a child, and it will take dedicated, creative people from a variety of fields working together to end the cycle of violence so our children can grow up in safety. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said, "We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers."

Everybody appears to be talking about gun control, an important consideration, but there is little mention of adopting programs available to us today, utilizing the latest research and successful, cost-saving approaches to reduce crime and violence with a particular focus on our youth at risk.

We are lucky to have many pioneers and visionaries in Sonoma County. Public officials are increasingly connecting with community-based organizations, businesses and nonprofits to solve these problems. Violence has its beginnings with innocuous teasing and insensitive remarks, advancing to name calling, racial slurs and bullying, which sadly escalates to many forms of violence, including suicide.

It's therefore increasingly obvious that if we want to prevent violence at its root cause, we have to institute and fund restorative programs in our grade schools where we can begin to treat and dismantle gang psychology and that of the socially maladaptive child. I believe that our security and prosperity is dependent upon it.

It takes a village, a county, a community of caring, thoughtful people from all walks of life to communicate, collaborate and cooperate with each other to become a strong voice and ignite positive action to curb the violence. It is time to get more involved and help our leaders "shift away from a more punitive and militaristic mindset towards a more restorative and preventive one," in the words of the Peace Alliance's Bob Baskin. We hope that you shall join others who have already begun the work by attending "Walking the Talk: Effective Solutions for Violence Prevention in Sonoma County," a forum moderated by Supervisor Mike McGuire, on Thursday, Jan. 31, at the Veterans Memorial Building (1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa), from 7pm to 9pm.

Margaret Koren is an RN and a volunteer for the Peace Alliance.Open Mic is a weekly op/ed feature in the Bohemian. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write

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