Violence and the Prevention of Violence

By Fox, Greer Litton | Family Relations, January 1996 | Go to article overview
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Violence and the Prevention of Violence

Fox, Greer Litton, Family Relations

Adler, Leonore Loeb, and Denmark, Florence L. (Eds.). (1994). Violence and the Prevention of Violence. Westport, CT: Praeger. 248 pp. Hardcover ISBN 0-275-94873-0, price $55.00.

This small volume is an interesting assortment of individual readings on dif ferent aspects of societal and family violence that are presented in 14 chapters sandwiched between two meaty forewords, a preface, and a lengthy epilogue. A handy index and sketches of contributors round out the book.

In the first foreword, Leonore Walker draws on her developmental work with battered woman syndrome to offer an exhortatory call for the study of violence prevention. Among her suggestions is that the acceptance of human diversity is a foundation for moving toward a nonviolent world. Benjamin Wolman extends this theme in a second foreword, in which he links violence and violent behaviors with biological drives for survival and dominance and calls for societal elaborations of moral development as the route to violence prevention.

In their preface, the editors provide a cursory overview of the 14 chapters and hint about their purpose in pulling together this collection of readings. Their goal is to provide for readers the latest expert scholarship on causes of violence, the different manifestations and forms it takes not just in the North American context but in other societies as well, and to suggest effective strategies for the elimination of violence from our social lives. It is a noble undertaking, and their success should be measured more by their having attempted than by their having accomplished their goal.

The first three chapters are grouped together under the heading of violence as a societal phenomenon. Although the heading is misleading, the chapters are interesting nonetheless. Here we find a collaborative (cross-cultural) essay by Tsytsarev and Callahan, suggesting an individual motivational model of violent behavior as an outcome of abnormal cravings for tension reduction, selfesteem, sensation seeking compensation, or communication. This is followed by Lee's report of his empirical research on the subcultural theory of violence (e.g., Are Southerners more violent than Northeasterners?), which uses, among other aggregated data, subscription rates to magazines that exhort masculinity and macho values. Rounding out this section is Takooshian's and Verdi's presentation of their self report instrument for measuring attitudes toward terrorism. Their documentation of the psychometric properties of this research tool is in the early stages, but the instrument is included in full for others who may be interested. Given the April, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing, attributed to domestic terrorists, their research is timely.

The next section, "Violence Involving the Young," includes five quite different topics. The first is Chisholm's very loosely argued chapter on contemporary U.S. childrearing practices as antecedents of violent youth. Given the expansive empirical base for this topic, one wishes for a more carefully articulated review. This is followed by Herman and colleagues' discussion of treatment issues for abused children. Their solid review is helpfully located within the growing literature on trauma in children. This is followed by a treatment insider's useful discussion of incest abuse among children; Meyer draws upon his extensive clinical experience in his inventory of issues and responses to child victims of familial incest.

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