If you have a U.S. 1 wall calendar in your possession, you will know for sure that it’s Wednesday, January 2, and we are back, fully rested and ready for action in the new year.

Of course you also surely know what day it is even if you don’t possess a U.S. 1 calendar. But if you are in that category and would like to have one, we have extra copies in our offices at 12 Roszel Road. They are free of charge and ready for you to pencil in all the great events that we hope you all will have in the year to come.

#b#To the Editor: Tales of Sandy? Gov Wants to Know#/b#

The devastation of Hurricane Sandy has impacted all of us. In an effort to better understand the impact that this storm had on the business community, the Governor’s office has reached out to the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and other local business organizations with the attached survey to help the state assess the overall economic impact as we lobby for Federal funding to support the rebuilding efforts.

Please take a minute to fill out this Business Impact Survey to help New Jersey receive the funding it needs for a full recovery. It can be found at www.nj.gov/njbusiness/

Thank you for your time.

Peter Crowley

President & CEO, Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce

#b#Social Services Post-Newtown#/b#

Editor’s note: Eleanor Letcher’s letter in the December 19 issue, in which she criticized the recent decision by the United Way to cut funding to two multi-agency collaborations that provide mental health and domestic violence counseling, among other services, resulted in the following online responses from people associated with the Family Guidance Corporation, one of the organizations that is losing United Way funding (U.S. 1, December 5).

Thank you, Eleanor Letcher of CONTACT, for pointing out the need for mental health and crisis services in our community, including suicide prevention. One in four people in a year experiences a diagnosable mental health problem, according to former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher’s groundbreaking report, Mental Health in the United States, 1999.

United Way of Greater Mercer County has, unwisely and unfortunately, walked away from supporting essential services in mental health, suicide prevention, addictions care and domestic violence, starting January 1. Families in Mercer County have always relied upon these available services and the need is not getting any less.

I encourage all people who are interested in mental health and other affordable community health care to support agencies that do the work directly since they can no longer rely upon United Way to do so.

Mark Lamar, LCSW, MBA

Executive Director, Family Guidance Center Corporation

The United Way of Mercer County has it all wrong. Donors (like me) are not concerned about the monetary impact of their donation. They are concerned about the impact their donation has in the community. They want to know that services are available for those that need them. They want to know that there is a place to turn when they themselves need help! They want to know that their donation is making a difference.

Jared Loughner, James Eagan Holmes, Wade Michael Page, Andrew Engeldinger, and now Adam Lanza all carried out horrific crimes against humanity. Mass shootings are big news, they generate sensational media coverage. Yet, according to the website, Mother Jones.com, what the media have failed to do is connect the dots between these incidents and mental health. Mother Jones conducted an in-depth investigation into these events (61 in all and 24 in the last year alone) and the most revealing fact to come out of their investigation is that 38 of these perpetrators showed signs of serious mental illness prior to the killings. Was treatment readily available for them, or were they placed on an endless waiting list for services? That is what happens when your community safety-net has been defunded. Less resources and long waiting lists!

I can not understand why the United Way of Greater Mercer County decided to stop funding EVERY community agency whose primary purpose is to provide our safety-net of services. Can you? Without access to affordable mental healthcare, domestic violence programs, crisis hotlines, violence prevention programs and homelessness prevention services, our community is going to suffer. Family Guidance, Womanspace, Homefront, PEI Kids, Contact, and CASA work together helping many in our community. Their impact is immeasurable.

I know that preventing every tragic event, like the Newtown shooting, is not possible. However, having affordable, accessible, quality mental healthcare available in our communities is a vital prevention tool. In light of this funding loss, if you really want to make a difference, consider a donation to your local mental health treatment center or violence prevention program. Your support will have a significant impact on their ability to make a difference in our community.

Pamela Senatore

The writer is a development associate at Family Guidance Center.

#b#Why Did It Happen? How to Prevent It?#/b#

Perhaps the most frequently asked question in America in recent weeks is “why did a gunman go into an elementary school and murder helpless innocent children?” The second most asked question is “how do we prevent these acts of violence?”

As a psychologist and violence prevention expert, I have studied violent behavior for over 25 years. And yes, there is a clear path to explain violent behavior and also a clear path to offer the best type of prevention.

To understand an essential motivator in the Newton, Connecticut, killer’s behavior, one must understand a predominant emotion in America today: resentment. Resentment is a middle grade form of anger somewhere between cold and chilly and sarcasm to rage at the other end. The central feature of resentment is a feeling of unfairness, that something is not right.

To understand the behavior of the killer one must understand resentment and how that gives one a feeling of justification to right his or her wrongs, to take an action that to him would make it seem fair or balanced since he feels he has been wronged. The first step in looking at violent or hurtful behavior is to understand what the justification is in the individual, what is he feeling unfair about, what is the issue, what is not right in terms of his world view. As stated, resentment is a form of anger that seeks to blame and seeks revenge for the actions that the individual feels were unfair.

Once a justification is established that something is not right, then one looks to alternatives with questions such as how can I resolve this? What can I do to find the solution to what I feel is unfair? Unfortunately, because our culture is so permeated with blame and resentment it is not easy to look to one’s environment to find a solution. If one were to turn to the mental health system that could offer a place to help resolve the feelings of unfairness one would find many avenues blocked. Access to mental health is full of obstacles due to the lack of funds in our community mental health centers.

Also, private mental health insurance is often characterized by limits and barriers to treatment with authorizations and cutbacks on services as insurance companies strive to make money and not have as their goal the provision of services. It is not uncommon in a community mental health center to have a three to five-month wait for a mental health appointment due to a lack of funding to these centers that provide a vital service to our community.

Once you have a justification, the feeling of unfairness, and you cannot find alternatives to help you resolve the unfairness, the next step is to consider is consequences. What are the consequences if I undertake violent/hurtful behavior, what will happen to me in terms of my life if I do this or that. Unfortunately, laws are only made for people who follow them. Others who are governed by shame, blame, and anger do not think in terms of consequences because if you are intent on killing yourself, then what is the sense of a consequence stopping the destructive behavior.

When one is resentful and bitter and has no alternatives to resolve it and does not concern him or herself with the consequences, the next step is looking at ability. What is available in terms of guns or weapons that can help one achieve and right their wrong? Certainly with 20,000 new handguns reaching the market every day, there is no problem in getting access to guns in our society.

Furthermore, in addition to the easy access to guns, there are numerous examples in the media of others who have committed acts of violence. This is known as “social proof” in that when one is thinking about committing an action and then sees an immediate example of that action being committed in the media he/she is then convinced that it is possible to carry out the action they are thinking about.

The media refers to it as “copycat,” but it is really social proof (evidence) that it can be done. Certainly, in the last six to eight months there have been numerous examples of evidence from the shooting on the mall that occurred several weeks ago to the Sikh Temple that occurred in October.

When taken together in terms of justification, alternative, consequences, and ability, it is possible to view how violent behavior of attacking and hurting others can occur. For when one is resentful, other people are not seen as people, they are seen as things, they are seen as objects or animals. Humans have an internal regulator against killing other people. However, the first step in any type of murder is to dehumanize the individual to make them a thing or object or something that is non-human.

The Second Question. In terms of how we stop violent behavior, we have to stop looking to laws to try to regulate violent behavior and put more attention to offering alternatives. There has to be an emphasis on curtailing the ability, especially through the access to guns. In Japan, a country that outlaws the possession of firearms, there are fewer murders in a year due to firearms than there are in a busy weekend in New York City.

Perhaps the attention in the media as to how many times mass murder events are portrayed and what is said about them that offer social proof can be curtailed and minimized. Also, in terms of ability, I do believe that New Jersey schools offer a very solid approach to providing safety to our students. They deserve high marks for the efforts they have made to ensure that our students are in a safe environment. In violence prevention terms, this is known as “hardening the target,” when you install safety procedures in your establishment.

Unfortunately, overall, even the best ways of “hardening the target,” according to violence prevention experts, only increase the security of your facility by 30 percent. When someone is intent on killing him or herself, it does not matter in terms of how many police may be at the building or what the barriers are. Although these can help curtail the amount of violence that may occur, they cannot prevent the violence from occurring.

Only through a long-term approach of teaching our children how to regulate their anger and instill the feeling of compassion that seeks to understand another person’s pain thereby eliminating the possibility of becoming angry can we prevent these tragedies from occurring, In the meantime it’s a sad truth, because society has neglected many of the suggestions presented here, tragedies such as the horrific event in Newtown, Connecticut, are likely to continue to occur.

Ronald J. Coughlin, Ed.D.

NJ-Licensed Psychologist, 3576 Quakerbridge Road

#b#Wow’s the Word For Arts Benefit#/b#

"Wow!” Was the word used by many as they entered Frick Laboratories, Princeton University for the Arts Council of Princeton’s Dining by Design: POP! Fundraiser held on December 1. The ACP would like to thank our event sponsors, dinner hosts, guest artist presenters, auction donors and our event committee, especially the talented and dedicated decor Co-Chairs Dawn McClatchy and Sandy Bonasera and their team. We would also like to thank the over 400 attendees who supported our event and recognize our Board of Trustees for their unprecedented generosity and dedication. In addition, we truly appreciate Princeton University for providing the spectacular event venue.

We are proud to have exceeded our fundraising goals to continue our critical support of important free programs that make the arts accessible to at-risk youth, seniors and people from all backgrounds. Programs for at-risk youth include: Arts Exchange (for HomeFront of Trenton), Art Reach (for Princeton Young Achievers and Princeton Nursery School), and Kids at Work: Discovery through Art (for Princeton Regional Schools). This funding is also supports scholarships to ensure that our classes are accessible to all and for Creative Aging Programming for Seniors and Caregivers. For more information about these and other Arts Council of Princeton programs we invite you to visit our website www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.

Thank you again to everyone for your continuing support in helping to achieve our mission of “building community through the arts.”

Jeff Nathanson, Executive Director

Jeniah “Kookie” Johnson, Director of Community Relations

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