Contents & Abstracts
Editorial : The
Millenium, Bugs, and Sun Storms.
by Douglas Paton
The rate of community violence in the United States has increased dramatically over the past two decades (Osofsky, 1998; Parson, 1997). Although the numbers have begun to show a decline in recent years [e.g., in 1998 FBI crime statistics indicate that violent acts and property offenses dropped seven percent nationwide (Morales & Reisner, 1999)], the rates remain high, nevertheless. For example, Saint Louis, Missouri, the city with the highest crime rate in 1998, had 14,952 crimes per 100,000 people. Miami, Florida, U.S., where we are from, was ranked sixth in the nation in terms of crime, with 12,054 crimes per 100,000 people. The high rate of crime and violence in the country has had a profound impact on youth: It is the nation's young people, particularly those from low socioeconomic, multi-ethnic and urban communities, who are increasingly exposed to extreme acts of crime or violence, either as a witness or victim (Warner & Weist, 1996). As a consequence of this exposure, young people are at increased risk of experiencing a myriad of disturbing psychological symptoms.
One main set of problems that results in the aftermath of exposure to crime and violence is the development of distress symptoms, particularly those associate with posttraumatic stress reactions. Because of the high levels of distress experienced by youth who suffer from posttraumatic stress, it is important that interventions be developed that will help alleviate this distress. This article first reviews the research literature on the relation between exposure to crime and violence and the development of posttraumatic stress reactions. The article next discusses intervention strategies to help reduce these reactions.
The practice of neutrality in the midst of war is inherently different from the neutral stance of a police officer during routine problems. When civilian police officers volunteer to work in a war zone, they find themselves in a starkly unfamiliar environment in which former police practices are inoperative. The officers must adapt their practices to war zone realities. One reality is that as representatives of international organizations, the United Nations police unit (CIVPOL) must remain neutral towards the warring factions. The adaptation of practices to these conditions is explored through the concept of neutrality as found in an actual episode within the context of the civil war in former Yugoslavia. The vehicle for understanding is a description of a funeral in 1993 by a CIVPOL officer during a conversation in former Yugoslavia.
The officer insisted the story was important to understanding the role and nature of the work of CIVPOL. That CIVPOL officer critiqued and validated the accuracy of the account and findings of this paper. The following analysis shows how neutrality was operationalized during intense negotiations, and how a successful encounter is dependent on an officer's apparent transparency and social-image. Interrogation of the description of the funeral provided insight into the practice of neutrality by peacekeepers in a war zone.
The goal is the analysis of subjective meaning inherent in a lived-experience (Ricoeur, 1974). Meaning is drawn from the content of the description by means of a dialectic questioning of aspects in the account to the speakers experience. As suggested by Gadamer (1990) subjective meaning is found in practices as well as in written texts. Similarly, Ricoeur (1986) discussed action as a form of acted narrative meaning. Thereby, this paper explores the practice of neutrality by CIVPOL officers.
Massey University, New Zealand
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