By Dr. Niaz Kasravi
Gun violence is an issue that disproportionately impacts some of this country’s most destitute communities—communities that are home to many broken families living in poor economic conditions, facing hopelessness and instability on a daily basis. A major contributor to this reality is the failed war on drugs, which has had an impact in two main ways: by perpetuating violence on the streets, and by tearing apart families and communities.
One of the most devastating results of our nation’s 40-year-old war on drugs has been a continued upsurge in the rate of violence associated with the purchase and sale of illegal substances. When the high-demand drug market is driven underground by law enforcement, the only way to resolve disputes has been with violence, turf wars and guns. And particularly in times of dire economic need, easily attainable access to the drug market becomes one of the only viable options to a sustainable income for some.
The war on drugs is also responsible for breaking up of the family unit, which serves to further destabilize vulnerable communities. According to the most recent data, 2.7 million children in America have at least one parent behind bars, and only 31 percent of black children grow up with both a mother and father in the home. According to the Pew Research Center, a child with one or more parent behind bars is significantly more likely to be expelled from school than the general population.
This deterioration of the family unit makes it more difficult for youth to stay in school, stay focused and remain goal-oriented, putting them at further disadvantage in breaking free from the cycle of poverty and violence that surrounds them.
This reality is both a tragedy and a travesty. It is a tragedy because the instability created in these communities continues to feed the culture of violence in our cities. It is a travesty because this reality is the result of a choice we made as a country—ironically, a choice to be “tough on crime.”
Read More War on Drugs Incites Gun Violence – The Root.