The Slap Heard Around the World

What motivated Will Smith to slap Chris Rock at the Academy Awards? The slap was an instantaneous reaction to a statement within the joke made by Chris Rock. Unintentionally-provoked violent behavior and verbal abuse tell us about an individual’s lack of self-awareness and self-control.

Time to address root causes of violence

Violence can occur when adults fail to make the “maturity flip” from childish, bully behavior that initiates a violent reaction into a mature adult who knows the power of self-control, which can keep everyone safe. There are three phases in the cycle of violence: 1) tension-building; 2) Use of violence or the “explosion” of emotions; 3) A “honeymoon” period when the abuser regrets their actions and apologizes, saying, “I’ll never do it again.”

Violence results from individuals not understanding that they must address their emotional demons or continue the cycle of abuse and violence.

I worked with the homeless for almost five years and started support groups when men in Oakland CA Park wanted to change their behavior. They did not want to return to a violent relationship or San Quentin Prison. A local pastor and I started a support group for homeless men, which was challenging. The pastor shared his story of finding God’s love and forgiveness. He had been an abuser when he was much younger. At first, the group was so angry that they could not hear each other. After several meetings, they trusted each other with their secrets and shared stories, which helped them realize they were not alone. We all saw the power of prayer as men could forgive their abusers. After three months, men decided to go into drug rehab, and other men got jobs.

So how does this story relate to a wealthy, successful Hollywood star like Will Smith?

Everyone has problems, and we need to discuss the epidemic of abuse. Ten million children are growing up in abusive homes today, which leads to an ongoing cycle of abuse and violence. Adults must address their anger issues, or they can pass their immature behavior on to the next generation.

It is every parent’s responsibility to protect their children so they can make the “Maturity Flip” from childish, bullying, and violent behavior to responsible, spiritually-centered people who care about themselves and their families and always show respect for others.


Stephanie L. Mann
Stephanie L. Mann
Stephanie Mann co-authored, Alternative to Fear: Guidelines to Safer Neighborhoods,” which helped launch the national “Neighborhood Watch” Program. Within 2 1/2 years, involved residents in her community (17,500 residents) decreased crime 48%, WITHOUT a local police department. Mann worked as a community leader, neighborhood organizer, county coordinator, state consultant and authored, “Safe Homes, Safe Neighborhoods: Stopping Crime Where You Live” (Nolo Press 1993) In 2010, while working in Richmond CA, with “Mother’s Against Senseless Killings,” Mann saw people too scared to be involved or report crimes. She wrote, “The Adopt-A-Block Guidebook,” with an easy-to-follow guide for existing groups and “My first steps to a safe neighborhood” for citizens. These booklets give individuals and groups the tools to reach out and bring people together to help each other. Stephanie started a homeless men’s support group while working with “The Mary Ann Wright Foundation” in Oakland CA. She recognized the need to support children at an early age and wrote, “Street Safe Kids: 10 Step Guide for Teens and Adults” (which has been used in after-school programs) to help youth grow strong from within to develop self-esteem and stay centered. Book available on The Safe Kids Now National website states, “Every child needs a healthy family and neighborhood to stay safe.” In partnership with the CARR Foundation, a binder, “Safe Neighborhoods: Access to a Healthy Community,” was created for city leaders to make neighborhoods safer for families and neighborhoods. Stephanie’s books strengthen families and can decrease the social isolation that fuels bullies, domestic violence, abuse, drugs, gangs, and other destructive behaviors.”

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