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OWENS: Education, work ethic, family keys to nix crime

One of the biggest issues we as residents and the business community face is crime and the perception of crime. 
 
It’s talked about here in the paper, on social media and around the water cooler.
 
It seems the answer to this problem is complex, and most of us feel very passionate about what we see as the solution.
 
Last week, the Tourism Leadership Council held a public safety forum that included Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department Chief Joseph Lumpkin, District Attorney Meg Heap, Sheriff John Wilcher, and Mayor Eddie DeLoach. All of the panelists, at one point or another, indicated that the breakdown in the family unit was one of the major contributing factors.
 
When we consider the impact of families, we must also therefore consider two other things I think are, at times, missing from our conversation as a community: education and work ethic.
Education has long been seen as a way to reduce crime. The article, “The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports” has been cited thousands of times. It’s one of the studies that helped us as a nation work on making high school graduation so important.
 
The writers of this article give many reasons by which education lowers crime, “By raising earnings, education raises the opportunity cost of crime and the cost of time spent in prison. Education may also make individuals less impatient or more risk averse, further reducing the propensity to commit crimes.”
 
Our focus in the community must shift to education. To your credit, some of you are already there. Certainly, education leads to higher wages and lends itself to another problem we face, poverty.
 
Education is such a broad term that includes primary and high school, college, and on-the-job education. And, that’s where I think the business community has made strides.
Tourism, for example, does a lot of on-the-job training. In fact, it’s one of the only career tracts where you can start entry-level and work your way up to the top completely with on-the-job training.
 
And, that’s where we go to the second point: work ethic.
 
A person who starts as a dishwasher in a restaurant is not going to one day own her own restaurant without putting in a lot of hard work. 
 
Hard work means getting the job done well, asking for more duties, and exceeding employer expectations, and sometimes coming in early or staying late or making sacrifices to get the job done.
 
Education and a strong work ethic leads to higher wages. 
 
Someone with higher wages has little reason to commit crime. 
 
Not only because they don’t want to risk losing their steady income, but because they aren’t desperate enough anymore to commit the crime in the first place.
 
Teaching hard work to our children is something altogether difficult.
 
Hard work comes from the appropriate appreciation of success and failure. If we appreciate our success, we feel good. 
 
We want to do it again. 
 
If we honor our failures, then we ask why we fail, we look at the internal or external factors, and we decide if it’s worth trying again. 
 
We learn from the failure and apply a better approach on the next attempt.
 
No doubt our answer to curbing crime in Savannah is a complex problem in need of a complex, multi-tiered solution. Many people, far smarter than I am, have proposed solutions.
Maybe that’s how we get to a place where we can alleviate crime, not by pointing fingers, but by holding all of us accountable for who we elect, how we view education, where we learn work ethic, and what we can do to help.done.
 
Education and a strong work ethic leads to higher wages. 
 
Someone with higher wages has little reason to commit crime. 
 
Not only because they don’t want to risk losing their steady income, but because they aren’t desperate enough anymore to commit the crime in the first place.
 
Teaching hard work to our children is something altogether difficult.
 
Hard work comes from the appropriate appreciation of success and failure. If we appreciate our success, we feel good. 
 
We want to do it again. 
 
If we honor our failures, then we ask why we fail, we look at the internal or external factors, and we decide if it’s worth trying again. 
 
We learn from the failure and apply a better approach on the next attempt.
 
No doubt our answer to curbing crime in Savannah is a complex problem in need of a complex, multi-tiered solution. Many people, far smarter than I am, have proposed solutions.
 
Maybe that’s how we get to a place where we can alleviate crime, not by pointing fingers, but by holding all of us accountable for who we elect, how we view education, where we learn work ethic, and what we can do to help.

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