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Your Opinion: Dig deeper into causes of crime

Your Opinion: Dig deeper into causes of crime

March 1st, 2013 by Donna Bernskoetter, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

I just finished reading "Lost Innocence," a book written in 2007 by five inmates at the MSP. This book contains stories of their upbringing and events which led them to prison. Check out - Convicted killers hope book will make difference from behind bars, five killers offer a grim warning to youths. Unfortunately, the book is out of print. One copy remains at our local library and one at Jefferson City Public Schools.

There was a common thread running through most of the inmates' stories. As children, they were ridiculed or bullied. Whether it was the weight, the clothes, or being uncoordinated in sports, they were teased - too fat, too skinny; too smart, too dumb.

What resulted is a build up of anger. Many did not share their sorrow with others, but instead sobbed in solitude, trying to release the sadness. They longed for approval; if this meant associating with the bad group, at least somebody accepted them. Some had parents who were too busy for them, some had parents who tried to be good parents. Some had parents doped-out on drugs, and some were sexually abused by relatives. In spite of these influences, the inmates said they were not giving excuses. They accepted blame for their actions; they chose to do wrong.

When you look at news reports of crimes committed, we find similarities. "He was a loner. He was teased/bullied in school." Why? Are children not taught that you don't ridicule others? Are we adults not listening closely to see if this behavior occurs around us?

We need to get to the root of the problem. Banning guns will solve nothing. Making laws is for the law-abiding. Criminals violate laws. We need to determine why those who kill, do so. We need to reach the person before they get to the point where they want to kill.

Many crimes were fueled by alcohol and drugs, and the bravery to commit a crime didn't seem so stupid when your brain was fried. And what about mental health issues? Are prescription drugs or illegal drugs that are not compatible with their body chemistry the cause? Are violent video games, movies and television shows that glorify violence to blame? Most of those incarcerated have absent fathers. Where is the accountability with becoming a father?

Some people blame the guns. Let's try to dig deeper.