This case, like domestic violence cases, illustrates why there is a need to include conflict resolution in school curriculums so students grow up having the practical skills they need when a dispute arises and will not go away on it's own. If people have learned to use negative patterns such as bullying their way through conflicts then they need to learn a better pattern in a positive way. It isn't enough to teach children not to bully, they need a replacement behavior that gets them through conflict.
SKIATOOK, Okla. (AP) -- Howard Hawthorne appeared calm when he complained to sheriff's deputies that his neighbors were damaging his fence. The deputies told him to take the matter to civil court and left. An hour later, officers got a report from the property north of Tulsa of shots fired. As they rolled up, they saw Hawthorne kill himself and found the bodies of neighbor Anthony Graham, Graham's 24-year-old son and a friend nearby, said Tulsa County Undersheriff Brian Edwards.
Graham, 44, was on a tractor and using it to pull up the fence posts when he was shot, Edwards said. The two neighbors were hotheads who had been arguing about that fence for years, said Harold Swift, 67, who lives nearby. He said Graham believed Hawthorne's fence blocked off about 10 feet of his own property.
Being taught only to avoid conflict is like teaching that to avoid reckless driving you must drive only when the traffic is light.
While the neighbor and others shot may have done something to annoy the man who killed them, we understand that the responsibility for the violence belongs to the person who escalated the situation and it doesn't belong to his victims. Unfortunately, in many domestic violence situations people can lose this basic understanding and assume that the victim is responsible for the other person's violence.
This assumption of victim responsibility is there anytime someone says, "What did you do to make him so mad?" We need to learn better ways to approach those in conflict so our questions or comments don't reinforce harmful beliefs.
I'm not talking self defense cases where the person who resorted to violence was the subject of severe violence, although even there I believe education can help people find alternatives if the threat is persistant and not immediate.
With the amount of money and heartache caused by murder the costs of finding ways to reduce violence will be worth it in the long run.
Technorati tags: crime politics domestic violence