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The term community has varied definitions. Originally a Latin word, Communis, a combination of Latin prefix com- (meaning ‘together’) and the word munis, a Etruscan word meaning ‘to have the charge of’. The term community can also be used to refer to the national community or even global community. Today, with the advent of internet, it has become increasingly difficult to limit the definition of community to geographical terms, as people now can gather in an online community and share issues that interests them though virtually. [Newman, D. (2005)]

For instance, in a biological context, it is defined as a group of interacting organisms that share the same environment. For example, in a human community, resources, risks, believes, needs, intentions, preferences, and other conditions determine and therefore affects the identity of the members and their extent of cohesiveness. [Newman, D. (2005)] From a traditional perspective, a community is a group of people who constantly interacts and lives in a common location. The group is normally characterized by the use of common values and social cohesion within a shared geographical location.

[Newman, D. (2005)] From an archeological view, a community has two meanings, one which seems a complete contrast to other social sciences definitions: the first definition asserts that a community is a place where people used to live, an ancient settlement whether a village, town, or even a city, and secondly: a community is a group of people who live together. [Newman, D. (2005)] Psychologically, a community is characterized by elements of ‘sense of community’. They are; membership; influence; integration and fulfillment of needs, and; shared emotional connection. (McMillan & Chavis, 1986)

In ecology, a community is a collection of populations of different species that interacts with one another, with community ecology being a study of interactions between and among species. [Newman, D. (2005)] Sociologically, a community is a tighter and more cohesive social entity that is characterized by ‘unity of will’ and believes. The family and kinship formed the basis of a community. (Tonnies, 1887) 2. Physical Environment vs. Human Actions The physical environment or just environment is a term that refers to all living things and non-living things that occurs naturally on the earth.

The concept of physical environment encompasses the complete ecological units that naturally exist without the influence or intervention of man such as vegetation, animals, soil, rocks, microorganisms, atmosphere, and other natural phenomena that occurs in their natural boundaries. It also involves natural resources and physical phenomena that lack clear-cut boundaries, such as air, water, and climate, and also energy, magnetism, radiation, and electric charge that is not man made. This definition is synonymous to the biological view of a community – a group of interacting organisms that share the same environment.

Man and his physical environment (biotic and a-biotic) co-exist and function together to form an ecosystem (community). According to one, Eugene Odum, one of the founders of the science of ecology, “Any unit that includes all of the organisms (i. e. , the “community” in a given area interacting with the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to clearly defined tropic structure, biotic diversity, and material cycles (i. e. , exchange of materials between living and non-living parts) within the system is an ecosystem.

” If human beings are part of the living organisms then one can talk of ‘human ecosystem. ’ Virtually, there is no region of the earth that is not occupied by human beings, and therefore all ecosystems can be considered as human ecosystems, or rather human-influenced ecosystems. As such therefore (the physical environment/the community/the ecosystem) provides man with the basic necessities of life, beginning with air, food, shelter and other necessities. In other words, man cannot survive without physical environment, as it directly determines and affects his behavior and development.

Despite this inherent importance of the interrelationship between man and his physical environment, at times man activities have threatened to tear apart the ecosystem balance. It is as a result of this that, interventions programs have been always carried out in order to make the community a better place to live in. This is simply because if a community exists, both freedom and security will definitely exist. If people are free and secure they can share and get along with one another and also carry out conservation measures in their physical environment such as planting trees, unblocking sewer trenches, etc.

further, the theory of A Sense of Community Index (SCI) as developed by Chavis, that measures the sense of community in neighborhoods indicates that young adults who holds the sense of belonging in a community, particularly small communities, are less likely to suffer from psychiatric and other disorders than those lack the feelings of love and belonging. [McMillan & Chavis (1986)] It is this sense of connectedness and belonging to one’s community/ physical environment/ ecosystem, and the formation of social networks that brings about the issue of social capital.

[Putnam (2000)] According to Robert D. Putnam, the notions of who people know (social networks) and therefore who to connect, work, or get along with, forms the idea of social capital. Putnam cautions in his work; Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (2000); that social capital has been on a nosedive trend among the American social circles. He reveals that attendance to club meetings now stands at a low of 58%, family dinners stands at low of 33%, and friends visits has fallen down to 45%.

[Putnam (2000)] Similarly, this trend has been witnessed in other western countries, and therefore the argument that, western cultures are slowly losing their spirit of community that once was practiced in community centers, churches, environmental conservation clubs, welfare meetings, etc. [Oldenburg (2006)] In order for a community to be complete or rather to assume its ‘Great Good Place’ status, people need three basic places: a) the home, b) the office, and; c) the community hangout or gathering place.

[Oldenburg (2006)] This philosophical view has triggered many community-based grassroots initiatives that seek to bring people together and to conserve their immediate environment. These initiatives are targeted to creating what has popularly been referred as “The Third Place” in communities. They are taking form in local pubs, coffeehouses, independent bookstores, and other innovative methods to creating the social capital that is so desperately needed to returning the spirit of community.

[University of Florida, (2006)] For instance, the innovations made in communication technology has enabled people to ‘gather or meet’ virtually online and share ideas that concern them. 3. Community Safety Interventions Introduction For a community to be complete there must be freedom and safety for its members. When people are free and secure they will definitely work towards increasing the social capital which will in turn increase their sense of community. Apparently, in my community there has not been such freedom and security, chiefly because of increasing rates of crime, particularly drug and substance abuse.

Fortunately, safety intervention programs have been put in place to fight the menace. Rationale As a member of the community, I have designed a drug and substance abuse prevention strategy that targets the youth in my neighborhood. The name of the strategy is “Drug-Abuse Free Neighborhood”. In partnership with the concerned parties we plan to visit homes, particularly to the homes of youth who have been identified by the police or the court as at-risk. Again we will also visit youths who are in the threshold of drug abuse related activities or have a history of truancy or other anti-social behaviors. It KILLS!!! AVOID IT!!! BE WISE

LET US DISCUSS, ABOUT DRUG ABUSE ISSUES Summary The program strength is that, many youth will be visited], this evidenced by the programs goals which are; a) to identify “hard to reach”, at task and court involved youth and their families, and to work with them on issues of drug and substance abuse and other related issues, and; b) to develop a unique (non-traditional) link between youth, their families, and agencies servicing them in order enhance access, and intervene in times of trouble. On a negative note the program, is currently experiencing financial problems and therefore it may fail to reach as many youth as projected.

Again, being a new thing it faces the challenge of acknowledgement and recognition among the members of the neighborhood, particularly the youth, the very people who form the program audience. 4. Community Penalties Shadd Maruna and Anna King carried out a research study, Public opinion and Community Penalties, investigated the public opinion and non-custodial penalties, why there are difference in attitudes between individual members of the public, and the implication of their research on efforts to garner public support for non-custodial penalties.

They contend that the theory behind punitive measures taken by a community is largely motivated by self-interest, in that, if the rate of crime increases members of a community could feel that they are being threatened and therefore develop punitive attitudes in order to curb or reduce the crimes (threats). They quote the example of Charles Bronson in the Death Wish, to bring out the idea that punitive attitudes are developed by normal people who are pushed too far by the crime and disorder around them.

Hence the notion that the more a community is exposed to fear as a result of crime, the more its members will develop punitive attitudes. Their research found out that majority of community members prefers community based punishments for offenders rather than ‘behind the iron bars’ punishment. However, this is on condition that the theme of ‘redeem-ability’ will be adhered to. The notion behind this argument is that the core essence of punishments should be to ‘change’ an offender. Again, public attitudes toward community punishments are as a result of the belief in forgiveness which helps to shape how people think about crime.

In order to alleviate public hesitations about community corrections, they should be assured that the sentence will be intensive (i. e. , more involving than the standard probation services). For instance, the potential use electronic monitoring services increases the public support for community punishments. However, the notion that offenders on community punishments are too dangerous that they should be monitored using electronic gadgets may lead to the question, ‘then why bother with electronic monitoring when the prisons would do exactly that.

’ The research revealed that the public strongly supported the principles of restitution, which provides for non-custodial penalties such as community service or plainly ‘giving back’ by offenders. The public seemed to put their weight on the notions of ‘paying back’ ‘making good’ and ‘restorative justice’ particularly among the focus groups. The notion of victim compensation was equally favored as part of community penalties rather than the high price tag of imprisonment.

Most British citizens favored the call for ‘earned redemption’ whereby offenders earn their way back into the society through structured opportunities to make amends through positively contributing to their communities. This is the best method because, if the public knew that when one commits a wrong they will be will be duly held accountable but in constructive ways, and that one will have to earn his way through these good works, it will help to combat the ills that the probation service has been facing by transforming the probationers into ‘givers rather than consumers of help.

’ Though Maruna and King did not support any particular form of community correction, it is clear that they put too much of their weight on a community punitive measures that are intensive, that are beneficial to the public (i. e. , giving back), and will have the offenders earning their way back into the community through constructive measures. Critique Maruna and King’s book chapter (Chapter 4 of Alternatives to Prisons) has got all the qualities of a journal article.

Their study involved the drawing of empirical and theoretical literature on public attitudes toward punishment, from prior research work, particularly the work of Roberts & Hough 2002; Roberts et al. 2003; Tyler & Boeckmann 1997 and other research works. They also relied on empirical data from their own University of Cambridge study of punitive and non-punitive attitudes involving almost 1,000 British adults. This empirical data and theories such as attribution theory are what gave their research study, shape and form.

Though this is not to say that they never carried out their own study, they did; in fact, the results of their study disputed some of prior findings and came up with new ones. Through an inquisitive approach they put to discussion perceived notions and prior research findings in view of arriving at the comprehensive conclusions which they offer at the end of the study. References: Canuto, M. A. , and Jason Yeager, eds. (2000). The Archeology of Communities. Routledge, New York, accessed on April 14, 2009 Long, D. A, & Perkins, D. D. (2003). Confirmatory factor Analysis of the Sense of Community Index and Development of a Brief SCI.

journal of Community Psychology, 31, 279-296, accessed on April 14, 2009 Maruna, S. , & King, A. (2004). Public opinion and Community Penalties, Chapter 4 in Alternatives to Prisons, accessed on April 14, 2009 McMillan, D. W. , & Chavis, D. M. (1986). “Sense of Community: A definition and theory,” p. 16, accessed on April 14, 2009 Newman, D. (2005). Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life, Chapter 5. “Building Identity: Socialization” Pine Forge Press, accessed on April 14, 2009 Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling Alone: The collapse and revival of American

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