Twenty-two year old Jared Loughner killed six and wounded 14 innocent people in Tucson. The public reaction; a “deranged monster.” Others blame angry political speeches. Loughner’s friends called him a “social outcast.”

This tragic event is a wake up call to focus on mental health and how to stay safe. We need to identify root causes and examine solutions for violent behavior. Human beings have the power to make choices for good or evil regardless of what has happened in the past.

Violent people were often victims. They never learned how to look within to find their own identity and felt victimized and powerless. Lacking self-awareness, they can spiral out of control by dwelling on past traumas or injustices. Anger, if left unresolved, grows into rage and confused thinking. They blame others and may seek a cause to feel powerful. Their ego says, “I am right and others are wrong” as they shut down their conscience and play god. If no one intervenes, they look for a victim to relieve their pain and feel in control. I.e. a rapist attacks a vulnerable woman, a predator attacks a child, and an angry husband abuses and isolates his wife. This is spiritual ignorance at its worst.

Loughner was not born “deranged” but anger made him think and act in self-destructive ways. He became an outcast and felt justified in hurting others. Mass murderers are often “loner” with “no remorse.”

How can we prevent children from becoming social outcasts?

Consider these ideas:

1. Spiritual ignorance – Children growing up with mental, physical or sexual abuse at home learn, the biggest bully wins. Violent movies, video games and TV reinforce that message. Without spiritual understanding of self, young people do not learn healthy life skills to help them handle feelings of love or hate. A spiritually off centered child can become a bully or the victim of a bully. If human (spiritual) beings dwell on anger, why become self-destructive or may turn their anger on the community.

What you can do… Look within your family, set boundaries, listen, demonstrate respect for each other and speak without anger. Do not tolerate bully behavior at home or in your neighborhood. Children need strong, caring families to learn self-awareness and self-discipline.

2. Social alienation fuels violence –When young people feel isolated and lack a network of support from family, friends, neighbors or a religious family, they may struggle to develop self-confidence and courage.

What you can do…Successful parents create a network of support around children and seek wisdom from family, friends, teachers and neighbors. A network of support builds trust. Encouraged your network to correct unacceptable behavior. Children will develop respect for others and their property. A caring network offers encouragement, mentors and role models. Involved citizens demonstrate how to become contributing members of the community.

We can make our homes and neighborhoods safe places to live and help young people from “falling through the cracks” or becoming “social outcasts.” United and working together, we have the power to create peaceful families, neighborhoods and communities.

Author's Bio: 

Stephanie L. Mann, Crime and Violence Prevention Consultant
Author: 4 national crime prevention books
Speaker, workshop presenter, founder of Safe Kids Now!