Rewarding Bad Behavior
As our children are growing up, we compliment them when they are doing the right thing. I have never heard of a parent paying a child to be good. Yes, we may have given them allowances of a few dollars, but that was for tasks that they were expected to do. Not doing them…meant no allowance. Through that allowance, a child may be encouraged to buy something that they especially want; save part of it for a “rainy day” and give some (maybe 10%) to the poor or the church.
Things have changed drastically it seems. Some children have grown up to be adults and have decided that “crime pays”. To keep these people from killing each other, one city has decided to PAY them to be good. You can read all about it in an article written by Tim Murphy . Crime was so bad in Richmond, CA that the cry was “do anything…to stop it”.
This is when they came up with the idea of paying criminals not to kill each other or anyone else. DeVone Boggan became the director of the Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS). His committee members combed the streets of Richmond, making a list of criminals that they would approach with a financial offer. The police, at one point complained about the ONS because their policy was not to pass any information to the police department. Some criminals who agreed to try the ONS’s proposals were being paid up to $1,000 a month for this arrangement.
At the onset, the crime rate went down about 10%, but by the end of writing his article about Richmond, Mr. Murphy came to his conclusion on the policy of paying for good behavior:
“…Three weeks after I met with Boggan, the city’s 137-day murder-free streak ended. A 38-year-old man was killed in a drive-by shooting, and over the next few weeks, Richmond seemed to be sliding back to the bad old days. A 43-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man were gunned down within 24 hours of each other. A 30-year-old woman shot the 16-year-old father of her child in a dispute over his new girlfriend. A robber was shot and killed during a break-in. None of them was on Boggan’s list.
It appears that some City Councilmen, who spoke out about the validity of the program of payment to criminals for good behavior and asked for a investigation into use of finances in Richmond, CA, were threatened.
Mr. Hoggan writes “…In 2014, we celebrated the lowest number of firearm assaults and homicides in more than four decades. Richmond recorded a 76 percent reduction in homicides and a 69 percent reduction in firearm assaults from 2007, when the Office of Neighborhood Safety was created. In reality, we’ve achieved these results not simply by the cash incentive. Our change agents work with about 150 clients a year, at a cost of about $20,000 per person, which pays for daily mentoring, coaching and companionship. By comparison, it costs our city about $200,000 to hire one new police officer.” (The ONS is funded by the people of Richmond and at time asks for donations.)
According to writer, Megan Walsh, The police do not work with ONS, though, and there have been tensions and, sometimes, embarrassments. In 2011, a brawl broke out when rival gang members arrived at City Hall to pick up their checks. The ONS staff refused to hand over the names of those involved. Bill Johnson, director of the National Association of Police Organizations, says that can send a message that police aren’t part of the solution — which in turn could be “corroding the social fabric we all have to live under.”
Maybe this is why people do not speak out to what is wrong or degrading to the moral values of the communities around us. Fear is a weapon that not only terrorist use but by those who have “sold their soul” to evil ways.
Michael Linsin gave some advice to teachers about not bribing their students with rewards if they will do their best work. I think his advise could also be applied to any town, state or nation that might be considering a similar program as Richmond. Here it is in part:
“Rewards lead to entitlement. When you offer rewards(money) in return for good behavior, you create a peculiar sense of entitlement. They’ll feel entitled to receive something for merely doing what is expected….
Rewards cheapen the intrinsic motivation to behave. Being rewarded to behave cheapens the intrinsic merit of being a valued citizen. In other words, it puts a price tag on the priceless.
Rewards lead to more and more and more. When you put a price tag on good behavior by offering rewards… will demand higher and more frequent payments. Rewards, you see, are not only ineffective in the long term, but they weaken over time.”
Mr. Linsin concludes: “The Ultimate Reward Good behavior is its own reward because it offers one self-respect and confidence…”
If a person has no confidence or self-respect…or has never been taught right from wrong, how will paying him change his heart or motivation to not kill, steal or commit crimes?
One has to ask, “What is our society coming to?” Have we become so callused and insensitive to what is right and wrong that we no longer have conscience? Yes, there is a big problem with incarceration and an over-crowded jail system. Has this problem become so big that “Do the crime…serve the time” no longer has meaning?
Is parenting so bad among many parts of our society that we are no longer teaching right from wrong to our children? Are we allowing impressionable minds to watch so much violence on T.V. and video games, that even our young people are becoming de-sensitized? This would also apply to children who must endure alcoholic, drug addicted or abusive parents…to them or to each other.
When I was an Assistant Principal to elementary students in Florida, there was so much misbehaving in the classroom that I had to take care of. When taking a child to my office, I would ask them to lay down on a blanket that I had next to my desk. Within minutes, the child would be totally asleep and stay that way sometimes for hours. A security officer at one of my schools, told me that I should ride with him some night into the community. He said I would see little children from ages 5-10 out on the street with parents who were gathering for who knows what reason. Children did not do homework; read with parents, or get the sleep they needed. Of course the same students came to school hungry the next morning for the free government provided breakfast. Even if some children are not roaming the streets late at night, they may be left in their rooms with a TV or computer as a sitter, with no expected time to crawl into bed for a good night’s rest. More and more is being exposed of teens who are finding themselves victims of the internet crime. America, we must wake up!
Are we ignoring teaching our children because we also have an addiction to the electronic devises around us?
How much time do we spend reading and sharing conversation that teach values to our children or grandchildren?
Drug addiction has reached a new high, even among the middle class and elite that often leads to crime to feed the habit. Will we also begin to pay the dealers not to deal? Is that also what Richmond is doing? Of course that would not work, for the profit margin difference to deal or not to deal would be ridiculous. So many questions…and so few answers to a society that needs new spiritual and moral revival We must have an awakening within ourselves and our communities. It will take leadership as well as the ordinary person to make a difference. It is not easy to work hard; get an education and then find a job to support oneself. Fast money is alluring and deceptive. The rich and famous like sports stars and entertainers, who are looked up to by much of our society have a responsibility to speak out to the value of hard work and perseverance.
I hope that Richmond, CA will find an answer to their criminal element…and for all communities that suffer from the problem of crime. Paying the criminal to be “good men and women” may not be the answer. In most cases, no amount of bribery will change a soul. Only God can do that. Perhaps Dr. Phil says it best, “When are we going to stop rewarding bad behavior?”