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JEFF BROOMES: We must act before it’s too late


JEFF BROOMES: We must act before it’s too late

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THE CURRENT upsurge in crime and violence especially among the youth must be troubling, worrisome and a million other emotionally disturbing impacts.       

Our country is better than this and is deserving of much more than we are getting by way of projection. I am forced to recall the now almost prophetic exclamations of our late Prime Minister, David Thompson that became an object of laughter and frivolity.

The plethora of commentators on the radio, in the print media and the television seem all to have the answer for this unacceptable sudden and almost uncontrollable rise in crime and violence. I, for one, do not believe that there is any one reason but a coalescing of several factors some of which have been allowed to flounder without attention and have now led to the inevitable.

I listened to the words of the acting Commissioner of Police, I became a little optimistic.

We must understand the impactful factors and seek to chart a course of action to address the situation. It will do no good to bury our heads in the sand, apportion blame to specific persons or structures or even to see ourselves as omniscient beings who should spout from the mountain top!                         

The reasons are diverse and the responses must be multifaceted.

It must be accepted that we live in a very small global village in which exposure is not always positive. Tourism and international television impact instantly and show the ways and means of fast and easy gratification that are not always in congruence with the law. Drugs and guns are glorified and allowed to be seen as vehicles to quick wealth and easy living. This is a fact that must be tackled as we seek to address issues of crime and violence.

The home must be the first line of attack. Here is where core values and a sense of decency must be instilled.  I am not making a religious case, but exposure to what goes on at church or synagogue can play a part. I am not condemning parents, but modelling of the behaviour in dress, interaction with others and seeking to sow what is right with the hope of reaping in kind must play a part. Identified and respected rules and principles must be clear and practised within the home

There must be standards that are observed, inclusive of sacrificing personal wants for greater needs.

The school must also play a role in the battle. Where education is lacking, copy cat behaviour is very easy to be encouraged. I call it American Wild West behaviour! Through education we understand that asking the question “what” is never enough. We are allowed to see the need to ask and to accept the equally important question “why.”  It is therefore a priority for all educators to meet children at their point of need and not to write them off simply because they are not operating at a predetermined level which simply massages our comfort zone.

There are some who are there, some who are not!  If there is a need for remediation, it should be given. If there is a need for intervention, it should be given. There was a time when we objected to casting young people on the block, because they ended up forcing us to put up burglar bars, now their actions are taking our lives and destroying the tenets of society.

The societal leaders must also be bold in their actions. I support the notion of national service for all school leavers, the only caveat being higher education or employment. I also agree with any attempt to give uncertificated teenage school leavers a second chance to acquire a skill or a qualification of some sort.

Yes, there is the positive initiative of CVQ at schools. But values, discipline, religion, academics and skill development should be seen as a core for a national service curriculum. We cannot wait until our country sinks to take the bold and necessary action to maintain this as our island home of choice for many.

Jeff Broomes is an experienced educator, principal and community organiser who also serves as vice president of the Barbados Cricket Association and director of the West Indies Cricket Board. Email: [email protected]