EDITORIAL: Answer to violence staring us in the face

York Dispatch

What do pre-kindergarten and prison have in common?

Not much, and that's the point. But we'll get back to that.

We were heartened to report residents are organizing an Oct. 9 rally against violence in York City, which they said seems to be on the rise.

It certainly seems violence in the city has hit an unfortunate stride. On Sept. 20, Erik Miranda became the third York City homicide victim in four weeks.

And one doesn't need to look much further for more examples of violence in the White Rose City, or even in the suburbs, whose paranoid city patrons clutch their vulnerable purses as they jog from the Strand to their cars at night.

Violence isn't just a city problem. It's a personal problem, and there are about 450,000 persons in York County.

So having residents band together for an event like this is an important step in the fight against violence, but it neither solves nor prevents the problem.

Who knows whether there's any fixing some people, or if maybe some ended up being criminals because they're just selfish, terrible people. This is not the forum for an exploration of the existence of inherent evilness, and it doesn't need to be because the research shows there's more to what makes a criminal.

Poverty. Lack of education. Poor family life. The schools and government call these kids "at-risk" because the data shows they are just that.

Crime often spins out of the vicious and violent circle perpetuated by families where children are hurt instead of nurtured, where parents can't be bothered because their parents didn't bother.

That might not be society's fault, but it ends up being society's problem.

We need to look past the assignment of blame to find solutions, which one might venture has not been a strength of many of our state's elected officials.

We already know some of what we need to do to address the myriad maladies that plague the city and exist in diluted ratios in the suburbs, and it distills to money.

One of few things on which Republicans and Democrats in this state can agree is the cold, hard numbers supporting early education.

There's an inverse relationship between education and incarceration.

Take it from District Attorney Tom Kearney, who said this in May:

"The issue boils down to dollars and cents. We invest $2 billion a year in incarceration. The most effective way to cut down on crime is to invest in our kids. We've all gone through the education system and we have all seen the kids that we knew wouldn't make it, and it's because they started behind. Sixty-eight percent of inmates did not receive a high school diploma; they started behind so they stayed behind."

So we can assume our state legislators — recognizing the wise fiscal conservation of investing in our future — are clamoring to fund early education, right?


Even though Republicans and Democrats agree it's an answer, one of those rare opportunities in which the answer is spelled out and all they'd have to do is act on it.

So standing in the street against violence sends a certain message, and we applaud you for that. Now, make sure you and all your friends are registered to vote.