ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Developmental criminologist and St. Louis University associate professor Dr. Norman White says to understand why some people get involved in crime you have to understand their environment.

“They are living in a community where there is lots of crime and drug dealing going on on the corner. All of those things are happening, that’s the point were a kid’s immersed in risk and being immersed in risk means there’s a danger that that kid’s going to be involved in criminal behavior,” he says.

That is one reason Dr. White became the principal investigator of a grant focused on elementary students in St. Louis public schools, to create a positive school environment and reduce family court referrals. Of the 15 schools invited, seven principals allowed the program in. One thing they learned was that not only are kids dealing with trauma, but teachers are as well.

“Hungry children bother you. Children dying bother you. Parents of children dying bother you, and even not being able to control behavior that you think you should be able to control,” he says.

Eight foundations are behind the initiative. Dr. White says one goal is to get more parents involved.

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