An alternative approach to reducing crime and violence in our tainted Rainbow Nation

Late last week, thousands of government vehicles and boots, at the cost of billions of rands, were expended following “the situation in Diepsloot”. This euphemstically called ‘situation’ refers to the murder of several foreign nationals by vigilante South Africans in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. This week, President Cyril Ramaphosa released a letter speaking out against this xenophobic violence, which has tainted our Rainbow Nation. Ramaphosa’s letter to the nation opens with reference to our country’s past “of race-based social engineering that manifested itself through influx control, job reservation, group areas and the dreaded dompas”. What is fascinating, particularly for those who follow the content on, is the reference with which this letter was concluded. Ramaphosa quotes the words of German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller. ‘Niemöller’ being the chosen pseudonym of the author of three open letters to President Ramaphosa published on following the July riots last year. The patently poignant final words of the original Niemöller’s war confessional prose were: “Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” The letter below, written by Dr Richard Broome – the founder of Thinking Skills Training – both acknowledges and applauds the steps taken by the SA Government in response to the xenophobia that stained our country last week. Broome, however, takes it a step further and suggests a Brain-Based Approach to reduce violence and crime. An alternative approach that may just be worth trying. – Nadya Swart

Dear Mr President

Thank you for your email received this morning.

Agreed: “Crime is a serious problem in this country.” And “Crime, not migrants, is the common enemy we must work together to defeat.”

We applaud the recruitment of 12,000 more police officers. And re-establishing community policing forums (CPF) across the country is a great step. You observe that today our anger may focus on foreign nationals; but, “Tomorrow, our anger may be directed at each other.” So: “Let us focus on defeating crime, no matter who commits it.”

Mr President, please note that traditional approaches to crime and conflict resolution fail. This is because they do not address the underlying cause of violence and social conflict.

Employing 12,000 more police officials is a laudable step but the cost of this must exceed R3bn per annum and it will not relieve the acute political, ethnic and other tensions that fuel crime and conflict. We need an effective means to defuse these deep-seated tensions. We need approaches that can relieve these tensions at the source.

Such innovative, effective approaches to crime and conflict prevention exist. Furthermore, they already have a better track record of success than conventional approaches. Research shows it is possible to defuse societal tensions and reduce crime and research points to powerful, evidence-based, stress-reducing, peace-promoting technologies.

We can apply these within the police or military, or even in large schools or universities right now. The cost is unlikely to exceed R100m per annum. This is a fraction of the cost of 12,000 police officers and would provide dramatic support for their deployment.

Violent behaviour starts in the brain. Restoring balanced brain function transforms violent and criminal behaviour. Science calls these technologies, the ‘Brain-based Approach to Peace’.

Science also refers to the Consciousness-Based approach, or the unified field-based approach, which promotes balanced, harmonious behaviour on the individual and societal scale.

What is the Brain-Based Approach to reducing crime and violence?

1. Brain functioning impacts behaviour.
2. Stress negatively impacts the brain. It shuts down the prefrontal cortex (the ‘higher brain’). Further, it over-stimulates the amygdala (fear centre). This causes fear-driven, aggressive, violent, antisocial behaviour.
3. Society consists of individuals. Stressed individuals create a stressed society. So, stress impacts the brain and behaviour of everyone in society. This fuels crime, social violence and conflict.
4. There is extensive research on a technology that markedly reduces individual stress. The technology reverses the deleterious effects of stress on the brain and behaviour.
5. This technology has an evidence base of around 650 studies. A sub-set of 27 studies follows. These studies show that trained groups can apply the technology within a population. This reduces crime, violence and social conflict. The technology has a staggering cost:benefit ratio.

As you write: “Let us work together to resolve our country’s challenges…”

With warm regards

Dr Richard Broome.

Selected references with hyperlinks. Pay particular attention to the 15 journal articles in boldface.

Read also: