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I chose to group these topics together because I believe they are strongly interrelated. The strength of families depends far more on the strength of communities, and crime prevention depends far more on the strength of both, than we have been in the habit of recognizing. Indeed, strengthening our communities is more fundamental even than educational reform, since no reform is more vital to improving educational outcomes.

Though crime rates in the 1990s began to decline and level off rather than continue to escalate, as had been expected (primarily, according to one theory, due to the earlier decrease in unwanted children coming into the world), America still experiences off-the-charts levels of violent crime in comparison to other developed nations. In fact, we suffer a cocktail of problems unequaled in the rest of the developed world: Poor educational performance, a woefully deficient health care system, high infant mortality, excessive violent crime rates, to name just a few. Add to this list of visible failures the equally high rates of less visible tragedies that occur behind closed doors day-after-day, in all socio-economic classes: the tragedies of child abuse and neglect, and domestic violence. The question we need to ask ourselves is, why?

The inevitable answer is: Extreme individualism. We are failing as a society to function as a society. Our overemphasis on the acquisition of wealth, and underemphasis on the health of our communities and families, has come at a very high cost. We are long overdue for redressing this imbalance.

We need local, state, and national grass-roots initiatives to reinvigorate our communties. I propose, and, as a resident rather than as a legislator, will help to organize, a non-partisan community initiative in House District 28, drawing on existing civic organizations and social institutions. The purpose of this initiative is to bring people closer together, on their blocks, in their subdivisions, throughout our district; to reduce the mutual anonymity of our modern society; to increase the ability of neighbors to offer moral support to one another; and to help catch kids who far too often fall through the cracks of our disintegrated society, and offer them the support and guidance they need. Those are the kids who fail to achieve in school, and fail to succeed in life. And they are the kids who, disproportionately, commit heinous acts, now or in the future.

It’s time to stop merely clucking our tongues and expressing our dismay each time horrendous but preventable tragedies of violence occur, and start taking the steps that would actually have prevented them. That’s what communities do.

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