RETROSPECTIVE: VRF, from 1985-to the present
For the past three decades, the Violence Research Foundation, Inc. (VRF) has been dedicated to finding cost-effective, non-traditional approaches to reducing violence on our society. The VRF mission was not undertaken by accident, as the lives of founders Everett (Red) and Mary Hodges had been irreparably touched by violence and, in their search for answers, they became deeply disappointed with ineffective programs to stem violence in society, and the typical social-psychological explanations on which these programs were based. Indeed, by 1985 it was clear that these theories were largely ineffective in predicting and controlling events that were the source of new heartaches for America’s families with each and every passing day.
In the tradition of American sociology and criminology, the causes of violent behavior were attributed to adverse socioeconomic circumstances and life experiences. It is true that some observers had emphasized genetic determinants of violence, but the discovery of genetic factors ultimately devolved into solutions identified with biological engineering of the human species—a prospect that ran against the grain of the grassroots, Judeo-Christian values of Red and Mary Hodges.
To their credit, Red and Mary began to think that we might be overlooking some simple, easily identified biological influences that predisposed individuals to violence, and that understanding such influences could substantially contribute to reducing the violent behavior in society. Red and Mary thought that predicting the effects of these influences, and taking steps to eradicate or mitigate them, could make a big difference.
As long ago as 1989, then California Governor George Deukmejian signed VRF-sponsored SB 107 into law. The bill, sponsored by Senator Robert Presley, a long time VRF Officer and Director, funded a controlled study of 400 inmates within the California Youth Authority. With this early project, researchers (Schoenthaler effects) contrasted the performance of half the inmates receiving daily vitamins, minerals and omega fatty acids, with the other half being given a placebo. While this study was imperfect with regard to some strict scientific research procedures, the conclusions were still impressive: those given the vitamins and minerals demonstrated a 39% reduction in inappropriate aggression and recidivism, compared to no in rate change with those receiving the placebo.
Recent studies, conducted under more controlled circumstances, do suggest that nutritional supplementation may reduce the likelihood of inappropriate violence in humans. These include Schoenthaler, et al (1997)(Schoenthaler, et al (1997), Gesch, et al (2002) (Gesch, et al (2002) and Zaalberg, et al (Zaalberg, et al (2010). However, methodological inconsistencies still tend to limit the extent to which these studies can be relied upon as definitive guidelines for intervention with society as a whole.
With its long history of concern for the biological causes of violence, VRF is uniquely positioned to seize the initiative and produce a definitive study utilizing top quality research standards demonstrating that a cost effective nutritional supplement consisting of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids would reduce the likelihood of violence in a number of societal contexts.
In the picture below, young male rhesus monkeys are shown in play interactions. These particular animals were subjected to nutritional deficiencies during infancy, and a number of abnormal social behaviors can be observed in the photo, including inappropriate clinging, social withdrawal, rage reactions and threat behaviors.
The story of the Violence Research Foundation (VRF) is intertwined with the lives of its co-founders, Everett L. “Red” Hodges and his wife Mary Merle Hodges. Motivated by their concern and frustration with a troubled teenage son, they set out to determine the causes of violent behavior. In 1985, with the establishment of VRF they began a mission which over the years would take them across a wide spectrum of possible answers to their question. While the occurrence of violent behavior can be attributed to many causes, including genetic, social, and environmental, their inquiry tended to gravitate toward the biological. Through the years their generously sponsored research and demonstrations consistently revealing a relationship between high exposure to certain metals, particularly manganese and lead, as well as inadequate diets, and the incidence of violent behavior.
Rob-can you put the following in some sort of individual box?
For the Foundation’s 2011 Annual Meeting we presented a comprehensive overview of our history. We present it again, here, with pride.