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Long-term solution to Boston violence starts in kindergarten

The desire to look for short-term solutions to reduce Boston violence, such as immediate relationship-building, updating gun and wiretap laws, and a new urgency in gun buyback programs, has stifled any talk about a long-term plan (“Mayoral race turns to public safety: Few detailed plans from candidates yet,” Metro, July 21).

Our political leaders do not trust voters to understand and embrace a vision that goes beyond the next day.

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Ironically, Partners HealthCare, the Boston Public Health Commission, and Boston Public Schools are ahead of the candidates, as they have already begun that long-term plan by introducing social-emotional learning in more than 23 elementary schools in Boston this past year.

They know that teaching children the mental skills to overcome obstacles, control their emotions, and solve problems constructively and ethically, practiced regularly from kindergarten on, will have 5-year-olds exhibit different behaviors when they reach adolescence.

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What is missing is the political leadership to inspire leaders in business, nonprofits, education, and the medical community to form an education system that addresses violence, offers lessons to parents, and involves the whole community in teaching the skills necessary to reduce everyday violence in public and in our homes.

Mitch Lyons

Newton

The writer is an organizer with the Social-Emotional Learning Alliance for Massachusetts.

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