THE BLOG
10/23/2015 11:02 am ET Updated Oct 23, 2016

Knockout Game: Reducing Violence in Black Communities with Therapy

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A dangerous trend is sweeping across America known as "the knockout game". This violent game involves punching an unsuspecting victim until he or she is rendered unconscious. According to Wikipedia, "polar bear hunting" is a label used when the victim happens to be white. These disturbing acts of violence open a new chapter in America's history with urban violence.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2013, an estimated 1,163,146 violent crimes occurred nationwide. Aggravated assaults accounted for 62.3 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement in 2013. Robbery offenses accounted for 29.7 percent of violent crime offenses; rape accounted for 6.9 percent; and murder accounted for 1.2 percent. Although the FBI states that crime is on the decline, these statistics indicate that violent crime is still a major problem in the United States.

As Americans, we must ask ourselves the following poignant questions. What if repeatedly arresting and incarcerating suspects is not the most effective way to reduce crime? What if therapy and play therapy are helpful approaches to reducing anger, lowering criminal intent, and healing the hearts of so-called gangsters and thugs? What if therapy can reduce the moral disintegration of suspects who come from broken homes?

In 1985, Dr. Lawrence Shapiro started a company called Childswork/Childsplay to publish therapeutic board games, card games, puzzles, and therapy boards. These tools, along with dolls and doll houses, are used by many psychotherapists to help resolve both internal and external issues affecting their clients.

As a person raised in an urban environment, I know firsthand the pain, desperation, and extreme poverty faced by millions of struggling people. I also know that arresting and incarcerating a person does not heal the heart and soul of the person. In fact, quite often prison inmates learn to become better criminals while they are locked away in prison.

In the American prison population, a prisoner often advances up the prison hierarchy from inmate to convict to general. Too much of the focus is placed on harsh punishment rather than rehabilitation and creating moral citizens.

Play therapy is one of the solutions to the crime issue. According to the Association of Play Therapy, there is a profound value in play and play therapy when practiced effectively with proper training, research, and support.

Instead of putting more urban Americans behind bars, we can utilize therapy to treat the causes of crime and violence. In order to have safe communities, our society must focus on healing the internal pain and dysfunction of our inner cities. The knockout game is a cry for help from a marginalized faction of America's underclass. Will we heal them or will we lock them up?