Breaking the Cycle

| 21/09/2011

Breaking the Cycle
By Sweet Pea
The recent events in West Bay have shaken the entire population of these Islands to the core. Everyone is frustrated and angry and this frustration and anger seem to spill over into further hatred being fueled.

Whilst we are all busy pointing fingers at the parents of these gangsters, their families, the teachers who passed them through school despite clear lack of certain abilities, the police, the government, the governor, more kids are being pulled into the vicious cycle of joining a gang and nothing is done to prevent this as everyone just focuses on the here and now. Thinking “long-term” and “big-picture” seems to have been a constant struggle in these Islands.

You may say that some of the recent shooters and victims were not children but clearly those guys weren’t born violent and did not become who they are (or were) overnight. Most likely, they have associated and identified themselves with this kind of gangster lifestyle for quite some time, and perhaps it was even something that they have observed within their own families and in their own backyard.

Unfortunately, we cannot assume that the families of these gangsters actually care about what is going on. Yes, there may be some who had a loving family and all, but it is likely that a lot of those families cannot even help themselves, never mind their offspring or other family members. I think we all can agree that proper upbringing goes a long way, but at the same time a bad childhood does not provide an excuse for someone to live a life of crime. We all have made statements how “children should stop having children”, but those statements alone haven’t really been that effective. So the fact remains that we as a society have to realize and accept that there are some children who never get the care and guidance they need at home and that some of these children will at one stagewalk a very thin line between growing up to be successful and responsible members of the community or taking the coward’s way out and joining a gang, leading a criminal petty life and facing potentially a very untimely death. That’s where the cycle needs to be broken.

Positive distractions

The police, schools and government need to compile thorough statistics on the criminals and their background (age, gender, family history, neighborhood, etc.) and develop a profile. Children who fit this “profile” need early intervention and be re-directed towards other activities. They need to be actively recruited for after school programs and receive the motivation and guidance from counselor, teachers, church members etc. I am not very familiar with a lot of the afterschool activities available for children who do not have the means or motivation from their family to join those programs, but I don’t recall ever hearing about any of the churches (despite all the funding they constantly receive) going actively out and recruiting kids to join a basketball team or a literacy course. Handing out a flyer to advise kids of their options to join certain programs is not enough – gangs conduct active recruitment, so we need to actively recruit the kids to go down the right path.

Sending a message

Children who are already noticed causing trouble in high school should undergo a trip to prison, be shown the facilities and experience a couple of minutes “lock-up” in the dark. This may give them a good first impression of what is to come their way. If a child continues to be trouble, they should be taken to visit a morgue, observe a dead body and assist with digging a grave at the grave yard.

Limiting exposure

The other day I drove past the high school and observed that a couple of guys were hanging out outside the schools, not dressed in school uniforms and wearing the typical “gangsta” style with the jeans hanging down and flashing some bling. I was shocked to see that this went on right outside the school and was seemingly accepted as several school employees, faculty members and parents passed without any intervention. Would it not be possible for the police to be there when high school lets out, observing the area and haul off any suspicious looking individuals?

Enforcing the law

The amount of traffic offenses committed by a big percentage of the population is appalling. Children grow up to see their parents speeding, parking in handicapped parking spots, tinting their windows beyond the allowed level with absolutely no consequences to those offenses. Obviously, those children are going to grow up and ignore the laws and regulations in the same manner. I believe it gives a child a long lasting impression when they are riding in the car and the parent is being pulled over for speeding or not having the baby strapped in a car seat. That’s when they learn that the police do have certain authorities, is there to uphold the law and if you break the law there are consequences. Just hearing about it in school is not good enough.

Forcing fathers to step it up

I observed that a lot of recent bloggers have asked for the mothers to do the right thing and hand their sons over to the police. There was no mention of the fathers doing the right thing, so it seems that as a society we have already accepted that a lot of fathers are just not around. Whilst nobody can be forced to “love” a child and provide guidance, at the very minimum parents can be forced to provide financial care for their children. I was shocked when I learned over the last couple of years how little the court orders a father to pay for child maintenance. The court seriously needs to step it up and hold fathers responsible to contribute to the financial care of their children. Child maintenance needs to be deducted by the courtfrom the fathers pay check and paid to the child’s caretaker (mother, grandparents, for example). If a father continuously neglects payment, they need to go to jail. If someone is unemployed, they need to receive assistance for employment, otherwise, they need to do community work (such as pick up garbage along the road side, sort garbage at the dump, sweep the street).

Whilst these suggestions may not be the solution for the current crime wave, I strongly believe that unless we try and interfere from a young age, more and more children will be lead down the path towards a criminal life and our country will slip further away from us.

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