AWRIGHT DEN: Failure depends on us
IT CAN BE EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to see beyond the negatives that a crisis or a catastrophe presents, but the ability to do such will determine what the impact will be in the future if it occurs again.
Every crisis produces pain, disappointment and measures of disturbance but if one looks beyond the surface results, one would recognise it also produces opportunities for improvement, innovation and change.
Barbadians are voicing concern about the daily reports of criminal and violent activities taking place in the country. What is interesting to note is that the crime and violence was always there and all that has occurred is that it has resurfaced and spread.
The crime situation in Barbados is similar to a recurring disease or virus. We keep using the same ineffective medication, which at times is a dose of “ignoring”, and then complain or raise alarm when it recurs and the condition is worse.
No one organisation or institution can solve this problem and that is where I believe we are losing the battle. The Government, justice system, church, societal organisations (charities and NGOs), media and entertainment, and families must all work together if we are going to bring some order of management or control to this problem. Within each of these institutions is a common powerful force that is needed to stimulate, drive and maintain the change we need; people.
These young people didn’t one day open their eyes and become criminals as adults. Sadly, many were being groomed as criminals from the time they were children. Their home environments and parents have contributed significantly to their current state. A lack of rules, structure, role models, morals, discipline and goals were their daily bread and as a result, this is the future that resulted.
Behind every attitude and behaviour there is a story and I would encourage those with the resources to investigate the past of these young people from primary through secondary school and see if there is a connection between then and now.
As a former secondary school teacher, I can safely say the education system has also contributed to this situation. We refuse to upgrade our education system to support an evolved global society and market and yet complain when these are the results. In 2007 when I started teaching, I told a colleague that in five to ten years there is going to be a significant rise in crime and promiscuity among young people, especially in the area of theft and robbery. So many students leave with no certificates, making it difficult to get a job, yet they will want the finer things in life and would do what is necessary to obtain them.
We live in a technological and artistic society and many of our young people’s interests and talents are in these areas, yet we force them into a system that does not support their interests. I have seen what boredom does to young people and it isn’t pretty. I had a few fourth form boys once tell me they just breezing through school and liming because what they really want to do is at the Polytechnic. Sadly, they were kicked out. The system needs to be more rounded and relevant.
The justice system is also a contributor. Incarceration has a part to play but mindsets won’t be changed while sitting in a cell with people of like mind and persuasion. Rather than debating a loan of $70 million to give to the police force, we should be debating giving a portion of that money to civil society organisations like charities and NGOs which work directly with these young people. Every single school should have at least three social workers actively working with guidance counsellors. On October 21, 2010, in my second column I offered this same suggestion.
It is common to ask in a secondary school form, how many people go to Sunday school or church and out of 30, three or four raise their hands. Children need a moral foundation on which to build their lives and if it isn’t going to be from the church, it will be from television, the Internet or some other source.
If we continue the way we are going, things will only get worse. We created the problem and we are also the solution.
• Corey Worrell, a former Commonwealth youthambassador, is director of C2J Foundation Inc.,a project-based NGO focusing on social development. Email: [email protected]