A thought-provoking idea .. particularly as being tough on crime fails.
Slutkin believes that violence spreads like a disease, and that we should be approaching it in the same way that we fight outbreaks of illnesses like the flu or tuberculosis.
“I just began to look at graphs and charts and maps like any epidemiologist would, and it just appeared to me the same way,” he says. “It was behaving the same way as other infectious disease problems. So, it was interesting enough to say, ‘What if we look at this in that way and began to treat it in that way?’”
Slutkin found in his research that acts of violence spread through a community in clusters and rise and fall in curves almost exactly like cases of diseases during an epidemic. He also observed that, regardless of environmental conditions, the strongest predictor of a violent incident was a previous case of violence.
“If you have all of these things that people keep talking about — poverty, and the schools are lousy, and fathers aren’t around, all of those things — but there isn’t exposure to violence, then you don’t get violence,” he said. “It’s the same thing, if you have housing projects and there’s bad circumstances and crowding and nutrition’s bad and no one brings in AIDS or no one brings in flu, it doesn’t just spontaneously come.”
a tip of the hat to Greg