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POSITIVE INTERVENTION CAN SAVE YOUNG LIVES

Whether robberies, arsons, murders or gang warfare -- what are the causes that precipitate such violence and what are the answers? The solutions are much more difficult than an added police presence on our streets.

We know that certain social conditions lead to unrest. An impoverished early environment, lack of student intellectual interest, poor academic performance and self-image, the inability to perform well in the job market, and feelings of hopelessness and desperation can lead to violence to achieve economic gain.

How can we expect young people to respect property and others when they have never been met with respect themselves? This cycle can and must be interrupted.

Begin with the home. Provide parents with parenting skills in their neighborhood center. Continue with the school. Provide clean, bright schools and caring teachers who undergo job assessment every two years with continuing education in their field as part of recertification.

Provide vocational, special education and gifted classes. Provide understanding and competent counselors throughout the school years. Provide up-to-date equipment and textbooks for every child. Parents must monitor their child's homework and get involved in their school.

Most of these provisions cost lots of money. These are not bleeding-heart concerns over the plight of the poor, but resources spent as a means of self-preservation. Social unrest and alienated young people will ultimately destroy the fabric of society, not just their own communities.

In the long run, for selfish reasons if nothing else, we must care for all our citizens, not just the well-to-do, by positive intervention in young lives that appear to be without a future.

ANN WEISS GINGHAM

Westfield

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