By: Monique Thornton @theMATmph
We’re a full month into 2016, and desperately trying to stick with our New Year’s resolutions. At least, I am. I have quite a few. But the most important one has nothing to do with me.
It's easy to get focused what we need to improve in our own lives that we forget one simple fact: Improving the lives of others can help us improve ourselves too. And with the giving spirit of the holidays fading, if not already gone, I thought I'd rewind the clock for a minute and bring a little bit of that spirit back.
Last October, I was lucky enough to help One by 1, Inc. host its annual Ballin' for a Cause community flag football and charity drive event. With this event, we had two goals: build relationships between law enforcement and the community members and host a successful charity drive. For last year’s drive, we collected new books and toys for kids being treated at Children's Hospital.
I would love to say that the giving spirit hit me when I was collecting those toys and books at the game. But it didn’t. It didn’t hit me until we dropped the toys off at Children's. When we arrived, we were greeted by amazing volunteers. They welcomed us and our goodies with such appreciation and gratitude. They thanked us repeatedly, took pictures with us, answered our questions, and really welcomed us with open arms. It was like we were visiting family.
What stuck with me the most was the spirit of these volunteers. They took time out of their weekends to help sort and organize donations for Dr. Bear’s Closet. You could feel their passion for the organization. And it's that sort of passion that can cleanse the soul. They made me want to be more dedicated and reaffirm to my commitment to One by 1. And that is something I could not have gotten from anywhere else.
So find your cause! Find an organization that you believe in and give it all you can. You might find that in end, you got more from it than you could have ever put in. That it fuelled you and gave you purpose. That it gave you another family, another of circle of friends. That it made you whole. That it made you a better person.
For more info on volunteering at:
Over the past decade, an increasing number of school districts are bringing police officers into high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools. Districts believe this will reduce crime as well as the risk of mass shootings. However, instead of making schools safer, the presence of armed police officers can lead to increase in crime or violence, and ultimately sends more kids into the juveniles justice system over issues that could be solved through standard disciplinary procedures.
When police officers are stationed in school hallways, a minor violation of school policy can land a child in the system, sending them into a cycle that could be avoided. This is why schools with police officers see increases in crime. In many cases, officers are not trained in the fields of education or developmental psychology, so they handle situations based on the way they have been trained to handle adults. Police officers have more difficulty determining what is a legitimate security threat and what is simply a disciplinary issue than teachers and administrators.
It has also been noted that minority students and students from low income families are disproportionately affected by the placement of police in their schools. A chapter of the NAACP in Texas reported that black students in the Bryan school district had four times as many criminal misdemeanor citations as white students. In a school district in New York, law suits have been filed against officers who arrest children for noncriminal behavior.
Based on observation of the practice in action, it would seem that placing police officers in schools is a use of resources that creates a more penal school environment for students and puts them at risk of being put through the juvenile justice system for minor disciplinary offenses.
By: Jean Vozella
Ever since deinstitutionalization in the 1970s, there has been an increased rate in the arrest and incarceration of people with mental health conditions. Deinstitutionalization, the process of replacing long-stay psychiatric hospitals with community mental health services for those with mental health issues, began in 1963 when John F. Kennedy passed the Community Mental Health Act. This act created federally funded psychiatric institutions that patients in state facilities could be transferred to. It was meant to reduce the population of mental health institutions as well as reform their treatment processes so that those with mental health-related disabilities would be less dependent on institutional care. It meant the reducing of admissions to mental health facilities and the shortening of patient’s stays. There is debate over the effectiveness of this process as being less isolated has benefited many individuals with mental health conditions; however, it has left many others homeless, unemployed, or incarcerated.
A study of the incarcerated population of several European countries in 1939 led to the theory that the number of people in jails and the number of people in mental facilities was inversely related. This theory, later coined “balloon theory,” would be tested in the United States in the 1970s. When deinstitutionalization reduced the number of patients in psychiatric institutions, the incarceration rate of individuals with mental health conditions began to increase.
Today, about 10 to 15% of inmates in state prisons have a mental health condition or a severe mental health-related disability. Many of these inmates have prior arrest records or had previously been institutionalized in a mental facility. It is difficult for these individuals to get the help they need in state prisons, and once they are released they have no home or family to return to. Without proper treatment and a strong support system, inmates with mental health-related disabilities are highly likely to be rearrested once they are released, creating a hopeless and dangerous cycle.
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