Dallas, partly in response to the 52 murders committed within city limits in 2016 so far, has implemented a new policy aimed at keeping would-be criminals from beginning lives of crime – a “Think Before You Thug” missive that reminds of former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s 1980s-era “Just Say No” approach to fighting drugs.
City council member Erik Wilson brought forth the idea, which entails tapping former criminals to partner with police and select leaders in the community to launch various educational programs that point out the pitfalls of a life of crime. The program is set for high-crime areas of the city, in order to target those most vulnerable to criminal influences.
“They took it from the idea of their environment, the streets,” said Wilson, in CBS. “They want the younger generation to take it to heart, to really think about what they are doing.”
The logic is that youth in high-crime areas will more readily accept the advice of former criminals – advice that will include such messaging as the need to stay in school, get an education and plan for long-term success.
“They don’t want thinking to be thought of as ‘square’ or nerdish,” Wilson said. “They want them to understand it’s OK to be smart. It’s OK to be proactive and constructive, instead of destructive.”
Police have scheduled a fair in the community in order to spread the word about the program, and to solicit participation and support.
Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign in the 1980s was part of the White House’s “War on Drugs,” and was primarily a messaging operation that pressed children to stay away from drugs.