THE EDITOR: Criminals in TT are not content to simply rob, but also to brutally maim or murder the victim. This indicates that criminals are not only motivated by the proceeds of crime, they also need to satisfy violent and murderous inclinations.
We must therefore reflect on how this violent disposition is cultivated in our society. I posit that such people result from poor socialisation to meet societal expectations. Unless this deficiency is corrected urgently, the nation will be generating more criminals to replace those that are incarcerated.
The agents of socialisation include the home, the church, the school, and the impact of public institutions. Among the obstacles we face is that some homes do not cultivate peaceful attitudes, and the homes that do are often challenged by the influences of peer groups and electronic media.
Although most religious groups are sincere, we cannot disregard the conspicuous consumption and self-aggrandisement of some church leaders who shamelessly parade their dubious doctorates and personal achievements on public billboards. To many of us, these churches, preoccupied with rituals, wealth accumulation and control, have lost all credibility.
I understand that education and schools function to develop the capacities and attitudes of people for harmonious living in a society, transcending excellence in algebra, chemistry, literature etc. By this criterion, our education system has failed. Our schools’ curricula ignore meaningful instruction in peaceful coexistence, conflict resolution and opportunities for legitimate personal fulfilment.
This can be better understood when we note that some major curriculum reforms have been supervised by teams of Canadians, and although we boast of three universities with schools of education, our own practising researchers are marginalised. For example, do we prepare our students to become resilient to the enticements of criminal gangs and the drug culture? Should parental education not be taught in secondary schools in preparation for later roles?
We need to reform our curriculum urgently to address the challenges in the reality of TT. But curriculum is not only about what is to be taught, but also about how things are taught. Despite the outstanding academic achievements of a minority, our teaching methods are ineffective for many students who have not been motivated to learn by the traditional processes of the schools.
Teachers need to put away the textbooks and design relevant learning tasks that require students to explore their country and community to find out how things are done; how jobs are created; the indicators of justice and oppression, and the hidden agendas that often underlie public decisions. They must learn to become outspoken critics of wrongdoing.
Another agent of socialisation in TT is the impact of the operations of public institutions on the people. When members of the State apparatus use their power to marginalise the poor and disadvantaged, resentment results, leading to increased criminal activity. When elected leaders knowingly make false allegations, or when priority needs of the masses are ignored and money is spent on vanity projects to appease a few, you develop a setting for crime. In this respect, the Police Service is a powerful agent of socialising people into negative dispositions. When police fail to prosecute those who break the law, people realise there are no consequences for lawlessness and become emboldened. For example, Chaguanas venders have taken over the pavements. Players of loud music from vehicles invade the peace of the citizens for fun. Pirated materials are openly sold on the pavements. Every main road has become a taxi stand. The arbitrary manner by which the Chaguanas Borough authorities have locked certain gates at Saith Park can result in unsuspecting pedestrians being cornered by criminal types.
The authorities and the police must strive to create an environment of order by addressing even the smallest of infractions, so that more horrible crimes will become out of place.