30
Jun 14

Value of Action Research

(Source: Google Images, 2014)

(Source: Google Images, 2014)

The ability to remain objective in scientific research is important, but some issues require involvement and action to reach desired outcomes and drive change. Traditional research would be inefficient (or too time consuming/expensive) to fully reach an understanding of some of our most complex and evolving social problems. So, while traditional scientist scoff at the idea of a researcher jumping into a social problem to drive change, it is necessary to solve particular problems because the researcher can be flexible and adapt to the situation as they research through action. The difference doesn’t make the approach flawed it makes it practical. After all, the point of any research is to improve lives (Schneider et al, 2012).

To highlight the power of research to drive social change, I introduce two social problems where traditional research would be inefficient. First, global women’s rights are a complex social issue that is unique in each culture and stems from and evolves with social and environmental pressures. Traditional research will be ineffective at collectively researching this phenomenon and thereby ineffective at pinpointing causal and perpetuating factors needed for communities to move forward with interventions. Action research (or social action and activism) can gain the collective resources needed to understand and resolve issues of this magnitude and complexity. First, there is a close relationship between the research and actions. Ideas turn to research plans, which determine actions to solve the social issue. Actions are continuously evaluated and research plans are revised based on real-time findings, or other variables. Most importantly, research and actions are carried out with the target audience. Research that drives social change is focused, whereas traditional research seeks to produce generalizable results (Schneider et al., 2012).

The first example is a movement called The Girl Effect; it has organized individuals, corporations, and government agencies across the globe to solve issues of poverty and women’s rights. They hypothesize that if girls around the world are given access to education, are free from forced marriages/child birth and other forms of oppression and abuse, they will be a catalyst for change… ending poverty, improving global economic conditions, and the overall human condition. Essentially, when a girl is taken out of the equation through oppression, they are unable to contribute to the economy/community, resulting in significant economic losses and the perpetuation of poverty and cycle of abuse/oppression. They have made significant strides by influencing policy through their research, as well as gaining momentum by educating the public on the needs of girls. I encourage everyone to browse the site and find out more (linked above) (Girl Effect, 2014).

The second example is the idea that businesses can actually solve many of our global social issues. In this Ted Talk by Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor and business strategist, he argues that businesses, which are often seen as the cause or sustaining factors in our social problems, are actually the solution. For social change to work it must be brought to scale, that is, it must be large enough to actually change the factors that are causing the problem and mass produce the solution. We fail to make progress on big social problems because we rely on organizations (i.e. traditional research) that do not have the resources necessary for this. Businesses have the resources necessary to produce large-scale solutions because they actually produce profit, whereas other organizations consume resources (take tax dollars, donations, etc.). By allowing businesses to profit from solutions they can drive the innovation and mass production necessary to create large-scale change in society, and sustain it (Porter, 2013).   As an example, we have serious issues with our current energy consumption. It is damaging our climate, it creates global and national tension, and it is also unsustainable. Businesses have made considerable profits by “going green”, and those profits have helped to innovate new technologies and products to solve our environmental and social issues. Wind/solar energy and electric cars are just a couple examples of how business can drive such large magnitude changes.

In closing, there should be a distinction between traditional research and action research, but those distinctions should not make assumptions about the value of the approaches. Each has it’s own unique contribution to society and individuals. While there is bias introduced in action research, there is undeniable benefit to being involved in the research and outcomes for social change. Matter of fact, social change (real social change) isn’t possible without this approach (Schneider et al, 2012).

 

References:

Girl Effect. (2014). Taking the Girl Effect to Scale. Retrieved from http://www.girleffect.org/explore/taking-the-girl-effect-to-scale/

Google Images. (2014). Image Search: Collective Power. Retrieved from http://www.pachamama.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/collective-action.jpg

Porter, M. (2013). Why Businesses Can Be Good At Solving Social Problems. Ted Talks. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_porter_why_business_can_be_good_at_solving_social_problems

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1412976381


29
Jun 14

Bullying: Instinct or Social Cognition?

In recent years, much has been written about incidences of bullying. Some of this incidences involved young people on school property, while others extended to their homes through social networks in cyberspace. The reason why these incidences of bullying have raised concern is because some of them have led to tragic consequences. Much is known about the victims of bullying, and rightly so. We need to understand that these victims regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation, are someone’s child, brother, daughter, sister even mom or dad. Incidences of bullying among young people have been well documented, maybe because adults have been there to make a stand against it, or alternatively because in spite of the shame that the victims may go through, there is no stigma attached to being a victim. As far as the few cases of adult bullying, these have mainly been in regard to parenting styles or activities that some parents may have shared with the public in social websites. I believe that more subtle incidences go unreported because of the fear of embarrassment among adults.

The question that is yet to be asked and answered is why do kids become bullies? Is there some inborn trait that makes someone a bully? Could it be something else in their social environment? Can we look at bullying as just an instinctive act or part of social cognition…or maybe the bullies are victims themselves? Some of these questions are addressed in applied social psychology, which Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts, (2012) define as “the science that seeks to understand how people think about, feel about, relate to and influence each other.” Social cognition on the other hand refers to the self-perception and self-concept (Sherman, 2014) where people are inclined to view themselves in a certain way. So even as the problems created by bullies are addressed, it is important to note that they may be end results (or outcomes) of some deep rooted issues that the perpetrators are dealing with.

A young person will not just instinctively become a bully. From a social psychology theory perspective, it must be seen as an attempt to influence others, or to create a type of relationship with power and influence at the center of it. It may also come from the fact that the perpetrator, much like their victims, have been victimized before. Thus their actions are driven by anger and a need to retaliate. Maybe the perpetrator is driven by jealousy (as the case is often true) that they have been shunned and excluded from activities that should be normal to social development. A self concept of being unworthy can sometimes be reinforced by social exclusion by peers, and this is the point at which bullying turns deadly. Whether the victim retaliates by lashing out, or by becoming a vicious bully in cyberspace, there is nothing instinctive about it. This is why interventions are necessary and must address the underlying reasons, not just the outcomes.

References

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks,


29
Jun 14

Stimulus Poverty In Deed

”Are We Living in Sensory Overload or Sensory Poverty?,” by Diane Ackerman

Milgram’s concept of stimulus overload is quite intriguing. As was cited by Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012), stimulus overload is the idea that our society today is much too much for our hunter-gatherer nervous systems. We weren’t ancestrally prepared to deal with booming cities, overly crowded schools and the bombardment of the world at our swiftly moving thumb tips. So what did we do? Did we adapt and overcome? Of course we didn’t! We developed apps for that. We have cell phones, I pods, I pads, mp3 players, wireless headphones, and Google glass. There is no need to feel overloaded because we have found ways to take the world in at moderations that we (at times) can control. However, Diane Ackerman wrote to the New York Times proposing a very fair question. Are we today still facing stimulus overload or are we subjecting ourselves to stimulus poverty? If you have taken a psychology course, you may be familiar with concepts such as conditioning, and if you have taken any courses in anthropology, you may be familiar with concepts about evolution along with learned behavioral traits. Basically, we see, we learn, we pass it on. Do it often enough and it becomes second nature. So why did we as a species not adapt to the growth of stimuli in our surroundings? Was it growing faster than we could to evolve in order to handle it? Darwin could argue that technology has allowed for the survival of the weak. Perhaps the generations of watching our elders swoon in fascination over fast past technologies has led us to be the monkeys that saw and now do. I often catch my son happily sitting next to me, Mario game in hand while I myself am playing a game. But are we hurting ourselves by using stimulus overload as an excuse to continue living socially withdrawn? Is this what we are going to use for the answer to, why don’t we talk anymore? Maybe if we looked up at the world with our hands devoid of any devices and our ears free from plugs, we would find by the end of the day that the world isn’t all that overwhelming after all. We just might like it.

References

Ackerman, D. (2012, June 10). Are we living in sensory overload or sensory poverty?. New York Times. Retrieved June 27, 2014, from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/are-we-living-in-sensory-overload-or-sensory-poverty/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2005). Applied social psychology: Understanding and addressing social and practical problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.


29
Jun 14

Jigsaw Classroom Project

Education is such an important part of our life.  Education begins within the first moments of life.  We have some instinctual knowledge, but we are guided to learn to walk, talk and problem solve.  I work at a private school for students with autism.  Our school includes students from kindergarten through twenty one years of age.  Each student has strengths and weaknesses, just like typical students.  Some are non-verbal, which brings its own unique set of challenges, and some are Asperger students, a high functioning autism and every level between.

During one of my earlier psychology classes I first learned about the jigsaw classroom project.  (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts. Pg. 208). An interactive project that requires cooperative learning to be successful. Our class which was composed of eight male students was experiencing dissention due to the social deficits and varying ability levels.  I thought about applying a modified jigsaw project in our classroom to see if we would see an increase in tolerance levels following the project. I checked with our school psychologist and she thought it was a great idea,  Each student worked independently on a component of their social studies lesson, then they each had an opportunity to teach what they learned to their classmates and the lesson ended with a test. We included a small incentive that would be based on their effort, because most of our students have very low intrinsic motivation, they are not rewarded by internal feelings of accomplishment.  (Schneider, Gruman, Coutts. 2012).  The jigsaw project was a success, the students were motivated to do the research and enjoyed the opportunity to “play teacher” for the rest of the class.  The students learned the material and were a more cohesive group at the end of the project.  This turned a potentially bullying atmosphere into one of cooperation and learning.

 

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Kindle edition.

 


29
Jun 14

My Husbands Community

I didn’t always understand my husband’s desire to play video games. He’s played a few over our 14 years of marriage, nothing I’d call an obsession or and addiction but for sure something I found annoying. Honestly though, I just didn’t know what benefit he was getting from it. I tried playing one once … World of something … just to see what it was like. I thought it was a waste of time. After all, I had real friends and real things to do.

A couple of things about my husband first, he doesn’t like crowds of people or going out dancing (he does it usually only for my benefit). He would prefer a small backyard barbeque with a couple of friends instead of an all-out party environment, I could go either way.

It wasn’t until I decided to go back to school to get my BS in psychology that I really started to understand the psychological benefits he was getting from it. I often heard him laughing and talking with others, just enjoying himself and his little bit of free time he took to do something he enjoyed doing. This week’s commentary discussing online communities drove this point further home for me. A world where someone can limit and monitor the about of stimulation that they allow in doesn’t seem so bad after all (PSU, 2014). The games foster a sense of belonging and being a team player is important as they must all work towards a common goal.

I came across some interesting research. The Social Benefits of Computer Games by Peter Forster. Forster conducted an online self-nominated survey to try to ascertain benefits people get from participating in online gaming. What he and apparently other researchers have found is that people who play computer games, especially role playing games, have a higher psychological sense of community within the groups that they play with. The psychological sense of community can be beneficial to the development of identity (Forster, 2009). Obviously studies that use self-nomination are limited in their external validity but one can admit that a correlation makes sense. The availability of online communities forces us to reevaluate our definitions of community. The mold of the American community is changing and can take on many different forms. Face to face communication and relationships that demand physical proximity are not the only available ways for us to engage in activities anymore. If the computer gaming takes over all areas of life and creates a degeneration of actual physical and emotional relationships then it could become a problem. As with anything, a healthy balance is necessary in order to reap the benefits that online computer gaming can afford to those who play them.

I’m comfortable in groups and love face to face interaction, strangers, friends, or whatever, I say bring it. My husband, not so much, and you know what? That’s okay. I’m happy that he is seeking a sense of community and that he engages in life. Just because it is not the way that I choose to engage in life doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Don’t worry though, the moment he starts demanding sandwiches and locks himself in a room with his computer … I’ll pull the plug!

 

References:

PSU (2014) PSU.edu Retrieved from: https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/su14/psych424/001/content/12_lesson/04_page.html

Forster, P (2009); The social benefits of computer games Proceeding of the 44th annual APS conference pp 62-65 Retrieved from: http://www.academia.edu/705294/The_Social_Benefits_of_Computer_Games


29
Jun 14

Hot Cognition and the bystander effect

Watch this video. Caution- VERY GRAPHIC

http://www.nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2014/06/mom_beaten_as_toddler_tries_to_intervene_salem_police_seek_assailant_video.html

 

On display you will see a very angry woman acting very aggressively and her actions are a perfect demonstration of her hot cognition. Hot cognition you will remember is action-oriented cognition (PSU, 2014). How the aggression was antagonized by the victim should be of little importance in the shadow of how the aggressor chose to act. Apparently angered by rumors that the victim was allegedly spreading about the assailant, the assailant pursued and preceded to assault the victim. Based on the theory of hot cognition this assailant did not take the time to rationalize her actions and acted instead on her emotions.

At one point in the attack you will hear the assailant demonstrate concern about losing her job. Had she been rational in the cognitive process to pursue the victim she may have realized that assaulting the victim could also lead to her losing her job, especially since she was still wearing her work uniform. After the assault was over and she witnessed someone videotaping her she rationally told the recorder not to post the video- knowing it could cause harm to her reputation (Gallo, 2014).

Now let’s turn our attention to the obvious bystander effect that was taking place. Aside from the victim’s toddle son, no one tried to intervene in the assault. The bystander affect occurs when, even if there are many people around, no one does anything to intervene in an emergency situation. I counted six individuals around the area watching and commenting on the events that took place and witnessed no one stepping in to try to reason with this woman. It seems we live in a society where there are only a few answers to the question of why no one tried to help. Either people are too afraid of getting involved and possibly getting hurt themselves, or we have become too desensitized by the violence we see every day in media and everyday life that it doesn’t cause us to rise up in defense anymore. Another option, and I hope it is not the case; people are more concerned with getting “hits on the social media pages”. This video could have very well just have been turned over to the police without being uploaded to someone’s social media outlet. It wasn’t the recorder that alerted the police to the video but a viewer who did.

Was it rational- cold cognition that persuaded the bystanders to do nothing? Or is this a twisted form of hot-cognition where the inaction of simply recording or watching attacks like this becomes the action part of the hot cognition? If hot cognition is action based and emotionally driven then I suppose it does make sense that inaction is the action. People are so afraid of getting sued, getting shot, or getting involved that the fear drives them to do nothing. This inaction takes place every day. People make the cognitive choice to not get involved even when they can clearly see that a situation calls for action. We all have a media driven fear of the “mean world” that we expect every dark corner to hide a mugger and every assailant to pull a gun on us.

This “you never know” mentality of society drives us to be bystanders, it demands us to stand idly by for our own survival. Furthermore it confuses the cognition. We can’t assume that no one wanted to do anything just because they didn’t. They could have rationalized and weighed the benefits and possible risks of getting involved. I contend that if no intervention occurs for this social problem a continued breakdown in social cognition is not only plausible, it’s inevitable. Our actions and inactions sometimes are fear based. Something should be done about this.

References:

PSU (2014) https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/su14/psych424/001/content/13_lesson/01_page.html

Gallo, B. (2014); Mom beaten as toddler tries to intervene; Salem police seek assailant; South Jersey Times Retrieved from: http://www.nj.com/salem/index.ssf/2014/06/mom_beaten_as_toddler_tries_to_intervene_salem_police_seek_assailant_video.html

 

 

 


28
Jun 14

Community and Diversity

A training seminar I recently attended for work focused on diversity, stereotyping, and stigma, which really resonated with the readings from this week.  Our seminar began with an activity, in which each participant received a page of photos and a list of professions.  We were asked to match the profession of the individuals to each photo.  The exercise was very interesting because we all felt very strongly about the career choice we chose, yet many of us chose different careers for the same individual.  It really goes to show that your experiences shape your perceptions and that no matter how alike we may seem, we are all very different.  Embracing difference and diversity allows us to open ourselves up to new ideas and new experiences through the eyes of others.  We may learn new things or gain a new perspective.

I work for a non-profit organization that provides services to individuals with intellectual disabilities and brain injuries, as well as their families.  The training seminar was valuable in that it focused a great deal on stigmatization of our clients.  We were forced to take new perspectives and see the world through others eyes, and what I found is that things that may seem different, really aren’t so different at all.  For instance, we talked about how many choices we get to make through the day.  Many of our clients live in residences with 24/7 caregivers who do not allow them many choices.  Although the caregiver may have the best intentions, forcing a routine upon another person would make anyone angry.  I have a routine in the shower.  First I wash my hair, then I apply conditioner.  While allowing the conditioner to soak in, I shave my legs and wash my body, and then wash the conditioner out last.  If I had an accident, suffered from brain damage, and could no longer care for myself (as is the case with many of our clients), I would appreciate having a caregiver who recognizes that something as small as allowing me to choose my shower routine is huge.  Often our clients do not get these choices, and as a result, display inappropriate behavior.  That behavior leads others to stigmatize mental illness because it is different from social norms.  Yet in the grand scheme of things, if you put yourself in their shoes, you would be upset, too.  We are often so quick to judge the disabled based on a defining characteristic.  We begin to treat that person as though that part of them encompasses their entire being.  Schneider, Gruman, and Coutts (2012) identify this mentality as “master status.”  Master status is a feature that we pick up on about an individual, and then judge the person through the lens of that feature, while ignoring other aspects of their person.  It is so easy to judge an autistic clients’ strange emotional behavior as deficient, but if you really take the time to search deeper, it isn’t so different from you or I at all.

References:

Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L.  (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


28
Jun 14

Bullying in the Cyber Age

I recently watched an inspiring TedTalk video by a woman, Lizzie Velasquez, who was diagnosed with a rare syndrome that inhibits her body from gaining weight.    Lizzie was featured on a medical television show when she was eleven years old.  In the video, she discusses that years later she was scrolling through music videos on youtube when she saw a thumbnail in the related videos that looked strikingly like herself.  She clicked on the video and found a photo of herself on the screen for eight seconds with no sound. The title of the video was “World’s Ugliest Woman” and even labeled her as an eleven year old.  Lizzie describes realizing that the video had more than four million views and thousands of comments.  She describes painfully reading each and every comment and not finding a positive one.  Viewers encouraged Lizzie to kill herself, offered suggestions on how to kill herself, and made comments about how sighting her may cause blindness.  It absolutely breaks my heart to know that people can be so cruel to anyone, but especially a child with a disease.

I began to ponder what could lead someone to do something so despicable and heinous. The process of deindividuation described by Schneider, Gruman and Coutts (2012) came to mind.  Deindividuation occurs when people engage in behavior they might normally be inhibited from under the guise of anonymity.  A prime example of this phenomenon is the Ku Klux Klan.  Donned in white robes and pointed caps, people participated in truly disturbing crimes because they lost their sense of self.  It is a mob mentality.

I believe that cyber-bullying is often fueled by the effects of deindividuation.  Lizzie’s story is a great example of this occurrence.  Complete strangers, who knew nothing about her, took the time out of their day to beat down a child hiding behind the anonymity that the internet provides.

This can be a factor in other cases of bullying as well.  The internet allows public access to so much information and in the click of a button, information can be spread about a person that they never wanted anyone to know.  In cases such as these, the masses can attack an already vulnerable person and make the damage worse.  Reading up on bulling and watching Lizzie’s video (as well as Ryan’s video) have really put things into perspective for me.  Lizzie was lucky in that she chose to embrace her experience and use it to bring about positive change; however, not all are so lucky.  Words can really make a difference for better or for worse.  It is so important to make sure that what you put out isn’t going to change someone’s life in a detrimental way.

A link to the video is provided below:

References:

Schneider, F., Gruman, J., & Coutts, L.  (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

 


27
Jun 14

Taking part in many communities to give and to take

Talking about the midterm test results last month, my son talked about how he felt. My son told me that one of his classmates said to him, “Why are you studying, stupid? You are going to flunk anyway!” He said that made him angry and he didn’t feel like studying after that. Last year, he worked really hard to be accepted into one of the top music academies in Japan as voice major. When he selected the high school to apply for, I had hoped that once accepted, he would be proud of his exceptional voice and singing ability and make use of it. But amongst other students who are excellent both in music and the standard academic subjects, his confidence is low. He is depressed.

Once again, as I did 8 years ago when my son was diagnosed as dyslexic, I have gone to the Internet to seek out helpful information. I was pleased that compared to 8 years ago, there are much, much more useful information concerning dyslexia, both in English and Japanese. The interviews on YouTube of famous people who are dyslexic like Steven Spielberg (YouTube, 2012), Orlando Bloom (YouTube, 2010) and Whoopi Goldberg (YouTube, 2014) give hope to both the dyslexic young people and their parents that watch them. These videos are what Juliana Rappaport (2000) calls things that  “turn tales of terror into tales of joy” (Schneider, 2012). However, these videos are only in English now, and if a person does not understand English, they can not understand the message. At this time, there is no such real life famous Japanese dyslexic person interview available. Here, I feel I can help as English-Japanese bi-lingual. I have recruited some people to help me translate these interviews and subtitle them. Another thing I can do is to get together with other mothers of dyslexic children, and interview famous dyslexic Japanese people and post them onto YouTube.

Dan Savage (2011) who has started up the YouTube channel to help LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and, stransgender) teens help cope with their difficulties during youth in the It Gets Better Project is not a community psychologist, and neither am I. As of today, no single definition has yet been articulated for community psychologist.  One version of definition is by Dalton, Elias, and Wandersman (2007), and it states that for holistic wellness in society, community psychology aims to affect real change at community level while helping individuals to cope, and the empirical research and ensuing action are to enable these two to happen (Schneider, 2012). Like many non community psychologist people throughout the world now, I have taken part in several community works via Internet in the past years. I took part in Twestival to help provide safe drinking water to communities in Africa, helped with mothers keep in touch with their early teenage sons through creation and management of social network community site for mothers of local boy’s basketball club.

Many years before the Internet, when a person became mentally depressed, the solution may be to have gone to a library to check out books about it, or see some movies or TV drama about it which were not always constructive in overcoming the depression. Sharing information and learning of problems that was not yet open or common were extremely difficult before the Internet (Schneider, 2012). With all the problems that it has, Internet offers self help through sharing of information (Schneider, 2012).

Resource

Dalton, J., Elias, M., & Wandersman, A. (2007) Community psychology: Linking individuals and communities (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Rappapport, J. (2000). Community narratives: Tales of terror and joy. American Journal of Community Psychology, 28 (1), 1-24.

Savage, D., & Millet, T. (Eds.). (2011). It gets better: Coming out, overcoming bullying, and creating a life worth living. New York: Penguin.

Scheneider, Frank W., Gruman, Jamie A., Coutts, Larry M. (2012) Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Second Edition.

YouTube. (2010) Orlando Bloom offers advice to kids who have dyslexia. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/WDBVsghh4z0

YouTube. (2012) Steven Spielberg – Dyslexia Interview. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/-lGr840jE_0

YouTube. (2014) Whoopi Goldberg talks about her dyslexia. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/ZWGINKlhst4


25
Jun 14

in-Justice

The United States of America is the most litigious country in the world. That’s not exactly something people should be running to the hills screaming about now is it? In our prisons alone, there sit more than 2 million prisoners (www.statista.com, 2003). There are more criminals in America than in China, a country with 1.3 billion people (1.6 million prisoners) compared to the 300 million on America (2.2 million prisoners). What is the reason for this? One of them is the incredible amount of wrongful convictions due to suspect evidence. How often have you turned on the news and heard that a convicted felon was released due to DNA exoneration? How many times have you heard that a star witness had provided misinformation that unfortunately led to the incarceration of an innocent person? Reviews have shown that the incidence of wrongful conviction can actually be in the thousands, there is a lack of accountability for those who do not prove beyond a reasonable doubt – the result? An innocent man/woman goes to prison, and if they’re released they sue the state and are awarded million dollar lawsuits. But there are ways to reduce this.

I’m going to be investigating the incidence of imprisonment of child sex offenders by improper evidence. Children can often be engaged in an activity or relationship that might be deemed as inappropriate by an individual then the state investigates. This is heralded – indeed, one of the responsibilities of our government is to protect the weak. But it’s the manner in which these investigations are carried out that I think, really cause unnecessary headaches for the accused and taxpayer. As you guess from their being missing from the victims list, the state prosecution is often the chief culprit due to what I can only term as underhanded tactics. Children, like every other human beings, can recount things that happen o them, their memories are true, but they are also very suggestible, their brains are still developing so their ideas of right and wrong all the way to consequences are erratic at best (Frontline, 2010). Leading them with questions like ‘Where were you abused, as opposed to where were you touched, created a scenario in which the investigators already presume guilt, and they’re conditioning the child to think in this manner as well (Myers, 2005). There are no laws prosecuting the use of such language so how exactly are investigators who infringe on them supposed to be held accountable? Fair enough, you hate someone, find them reprehensible – but to send them away for a crime they didn’t exist? I think it’s downright despicable. Innocent people can die under the death penalty. You can free an innocent man, but how do you bring a dead one back to life?

But that’s not the only downside.  If they’re lucky, and by lucky I mean being one in tens of thousands, this individual is set free after review by a non-profit like the ACLU. Then they sue the state and the burden of their incarceration is put on society. This it a double slap in the face – one, one of our own is falsely accused and imprisoned due to charged questioning. Second, once free, our tax dollars have to subsidize him for the heartache they’ve suffered. I’m not against the released being paid a handsome sum, indeed it’s their due – no amount of money can give back lost years. Death Row inmate Glenn Ford was released after 30 years of being wrongfully imprisoned (The Guardian, 2014.) This black man was sentenced to death by an all-white jury, his team was led by a lawyer two years out of law school and another who focused on oil and gas cases. Such incompetence from the state is a detriment to us, as society. We deserve better, no we DEMAND better. OR this will keep going on unabated.  Innocents will die, and these remaining states that have actually expedited the death penalty shall have blood on their hands (The Guardian, 2014.)

http://www.statista.com/statistics/262961/countries-with-the-most-prisoners/

Myers, John E.B. MYERS ON EVIDENCE in CHILD, DOMESTIC and ELDER ABUSE CASES. 2005.  Aspen Publishers. Iowa

Frontline,2010:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/12/death-row-inmate-glenn-ford-released-30-years-after-wrongful-conviction

 

 


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