Societal Violence and Poverty

Economic Inequality is the biggest correlate with societal violence. This matters when we talk about bullying and harassment.

The price of rejecting reality is high

I was on a panel discussion this past weekend with a group of professionals talking about mental health and social violence. My copanelists shared a lot of good information, but I also found it a bit frustrating. Here’s why.

We can’t fix our problems unless we know what is causing them.

Good parent’s can raise bullying children. It’s just a fact. While parents should be involved if a child is acting inappropriately, the reality is, they can only do so much. There are other factors at play. A child’s biological predispositions play a part. The social conditions a child finds themselves in is another.

Children learn from other children. They also need safety. And poverty, robs kids of safety.

Economic Correlation with Violence

Researchers have known for years that the strongest determinate of social violence is inequality. “Urban violence is predictable; it concentrates in specific places, among certain people and at very particular times.” – World Economic Forum –

If we want to reduce social violence, we need to reduce poverty and inequality. No amount of good parenting is going to fix the negative impacts poverty and inequality have on a growing child. The only thing that fixes the impacts starvation has on the brain – is food. And even then, if not consistent, the damage to the brain is permanent.

Why this matters to people concerned about bullying

Bullying is a form of social violence. It’s about creating inclusion and exclusion. People with wealth, don’t experience this much. Their wealth insulates them and makes it so – exclusion doesn’t hurt them much. They can just – move or find another group to be part of.

For kids in poverty? Bullying can be a way to gain resources. Stealing people’s lunch money. Exclusion in this environment is much more deadly than it is for the wealthy.

I teach how to get unwanted behavior to stop. And I teach people how to use these behavioral modification techniques to stop bullying. But I very aware, that these techniques, while they can work and help, aren’t miracle cures.

Poverty is deadly. It’s a physical health precondition and it’s a mental health precondition. We need to start fixing it and we need to stop tolerating it.