Bridget McNulty
Bridget McNulty

Stop crime by saying hello

In the mood for a little distraction to start off your week?

Take a look at Stop Crime Say Hello — a local organisation built on the premise that if South Africans said hello to each other more and treated each other better at work and in life, the amount of violent crime would drop.

They caught onto this from a study conducted in New York in the late 1980s where murder dropped by more than 62% and serious crime by 50%. Why? Simply because the city authorities started cleaning things up — fixing broken windows, scrubbing off graffiti and generally promoting respect by creating an orderly environment. It seems to work in Singapore and Japan, where the crime rate is notoriously low and life is notoriously ordered.

Stop Crime Say Hello even promotes saying hello as a self-defence mechanism. They also have a couple of suggestions on how to take the hello further — drop into your local police station with coffee and cake for the cops. Best of all, if you send in a photo of yourself having a tea party with the cops, they’ll cover your cake and coffee costs!
I kid you not.

In their own words: “We believe that by regularly doing small things that prick this ‘bubble of anger’ we can each play our part in creating an environment where crime, particularly of the violent kind, will not flourish. We believe that by respecting one another and actively restoring every human being’s dignity we will see dramatic decreases in violence in our country.”

It might sound fanciful but I like the concept. And even if it doesn’t stop crime in its tracks, it will make walking around the neighbourhood a little more pleasant, no?