Analyse crimes and find the solutions
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Jamaica is in the grips of a crime crisis. The nation is in distress. Our gross national product (GNP) is being depleted. Our hospital expenses soar unnecessarily. Untold suffering provides daily headlines. Even the global reputation of Jamaica as a tourist destination, and as a place to do business, is under threat.
How do we deal with this crime problem?
When an individual or social institution faces a problem, the first approach needs to be one of analysis. This analysis has to be drilled down to several levels. For a physician to be of any help to a patient's crisis, he/she would have to recognise that there are several underlying problems that would need careful data collection through history-taking and laboratory investigations. The outcome would be a diagnosis of what is causing the crisis. The diagnosis would dictate the solution.
Anthropologists such as Herbert Gayle, community peace activists such as Horace Levy, and health epidemiologists such as Elizabeth Ward and several other experts, including security personnel, have all advised that a critical underlying issue is the disempowerment of our youth. They are being deprived of adequate education, parenting, social skills etc. and other social and emotional nurturing. There are more than 140,000 unattached youth and 70 per cent leave school unfit for work.
They become recruitment material for petty crimes, contract killings, gangs or higher level organised crimes. They murder mostly one another in a deathly competition for scarce respect and resources. Thus, several don't expect to live past age 25. Unless there are drastic changes made in youth social development, many will have no usable future.
Would it be appropriate to have a consensus that the real diagnosis of our crime crisis is a youth development crisis?
Can this consensus be held by all bipartisan, political leaders, private sector, public servants, security forces and caregiving institutions, including education, mental health and social welfare?
If so, all our collective efforts need to be driven towards a youth development solution.
We do have various civil-society agencies dedicated to children and youth. Yet, how much priority are these agencies receiving in political and financial support? How adequate is their networking?
Could our crime plan be converted to a youth transformation programme? This plan and related activities would include defined leaders, stakeholders, goals and timelines as well as accountability mechanisms. All related agencies could be pulled together ,along with representatives from grass-root entities.
Are we willing to accept this diagnosis and prescription? Who will bell the cat? Who will rise to tackle the monster of historical and social neglect? We kick the can down the road to our collective detriment.
E. ANTHONY ALLEN