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The recent spate of violent crimes within this beloved country has sobered me. It appears that a week cannot pass without a voice note or news report accounting horrific stories of another human being shot, chopped or otherwise bludgeoned, another victim of senseless violence.
We usually do not link violence with the economy; however, many economic scholars, both overseas and right here at home, have repeatedly shown through statistics and research that recessions and increased violence go hand in hand.
But why is this the case? Or to be more specific, why is this so for Barbados?
We as human beings often have greater expectations of others than we do for ourselves. We assume that everyone has enjoyed the same opportunities, upbringing, and influences. Therefore, if we had a rough start in life and we became successful, then everyone else should be able to. Keep in mind that everyone’s perceptions of rough vary, lest we forget Trump’s ‘small’ inheritance.
But life and people do not work that way. Some persons cannot overcome the myriad of negative influences around them, the limited opportunities, their unhappy households or lack of encouragement.
Let’s then add to that an economy that has become increasingly more difficult to navigate. Unless you are in the elite 1 to 5% of this population, we have all felt the squeeze of reduced disposable income and have had to use our creative juices to make ends meet. Some can still pay bills, ensure that there is food in their cupboards and reluctantly reduce vacation and entertainment funds, or grudgingly dip into savings funds.
But what about those in society that were struggling to make ends meet in better times some nine years ago, could rarely pay bills on time and had to choose between feeding their children and bus fare to get to work?
I have seen many in my social media sphere call for the hanging or imprisonment of the young men that were apprehended (kudos to our hardworking police force) but I strongly believe that this is not the answer. Hanging will not stop the wealthy gunmen that are targeting our vulnerable young people and tempting them with money. Hang one today, another will pop up tomorrow and the cycle continues. If you truly want to stop this problem, you must deal with the root cause.
Our young people are not the ones purchasing these weapons and they are not the ones allowing them to enter our country. I am not saying that there is a welcome wagon for guns entering our borders, but they did not appear here by magic and it clearly calls for a strengthening in controls to prevent their entry.
The Attorney General has reopened the case for cameras in our ports. I understand wholeheartedly the need for workplace privacy but the likelihood that this is one of the avenues for entry should be considered if it means preventing more deaths.
Should we consider increasing the services of our police and defense force in areas suspected as unofficial ports of entry along our coastal zones, so that they can use their exemplary skills to prevent gun trafficking as opposed to catching alleged criminals after the fact?
Or should we just throw our teenagers and young adults into prison to become tainted by the stain of societal stigma and ignore the potential that they have to contribute to society with the right programs, rehabilitation, discipline and influence?
What say you Barbados?