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No blame game in violence fight


DEREK ALLEYNE

No blame game in violence fight

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I FOUND Dr Frances Chandler’s article on violence in Wednesday’s NATION typical of the reactionaries and escapists that dominate some sectors of the Barbadian society. The former senator reminds Barbadians that in 1999 the DLP warned of the threat crime and violence posed to society. She went on to note the negative response that followed the warning without understanding or expressing the significance of the response.

She goes on to admonish the DLP for not tackling the issue of crime and violence when it assumed office in 2008 and draws as part of the evidence of the recalcitrance of the DLP government, the dispute surrounding former Police Commissioner Watson. Again, this represents a leap into “blamism”.

I am the first to admit that not enough attention has been placed directly on the issue of violence relating to guns. I believe the focus has to be on access first and secondly on use. A discussion of those issues is beyond the space allowed in letters to the editor. However I submit that the government has been driving a violence- reduction programme for the last eight years.

Evidence can be found in the domestic violence programmes, anger management programmes in the schools, the development of a National Youth Policy and the work of the Implementation Committee; reform of the juvenile justice programme, community- based activities of the constituency councils and the work of agencies like the Urban Development Commission and Crime Stoppers in sensitising Barbadians about the threat of guns to community living. Violence is a multidimensional phenomenon and there will be no quick fix to its perverse and pervasive nature. Dealing with gun violence takes all facets of and agencies in a society to be in one accord if the phenomenon is to be addressed.

A major problem has been and will continue to be for some time, the individualistic and selfish disposition of some sectors of the Barbadian society to challenges that do not affect them directly. Only when a challenge threatens the comfort levels of too many Barbadians it is a concern for them. As I traversed the communities across Barbados it was not uncommon to hear a comment when some young man was killed or injured, “drugs man, let them kill each other”.

I submit that had the young man not brandished and discharged a gun on Spring Garden on Kadooment Day, Chandler would have continued in her peaceful existence. I did not hear the same alarm when Chandler sat in the Senate from 2003-2013 and murders mounted to 33 in 2003, 35 in 2006 and 31 in 2010, the years with the three highest numbers of deaths from guns.

The horrible incident on Spring Garden is a wake-up call. It makes the point that guns, the related violence, the fear and injury they bring can reach us all. Intentional homicide requires its own analysis and the experts in public health and criminal behaviour can continue their analyses of this phenomenon.

The need, access and want on use of guns are the concerns of all citizens. To place blame on any group is to escape realism and avoid action. In the meantime, I am reminded of an article by William Chapman writing in 2015 about inductive leap. He reminded us that “if we are going to draw hard conclusions, we need hard facts. Too often we throw aside the evidence in preference for a quick dirty verdict”. We are all guilty, including Chandler.

– DEREK ALLEYNE

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