BRITISH journalist and author Gary Younge says societies have a collective responsibility for children.
He was speaking Thursday on his 2016 book Another Day in the Death of America during the One on One session of the Bocas Lit Fest at the Old Fire Station, Port of Spain. He was interviewed by 2019 Bocas Prize non-fiction winner Kevin Adonis Browne.
One attendee said while TT did not have a gun culture like the US, when 14-year-old Luke Williams was shot and killed (in Bournes Road this week in a suspected liquor mart robbery), the response was almost identical with people asking, "Where are the parents?"
"Are we importing our responses?"
Younge, UK Guardian Editor-at-Large, said when those things happenned, we could talk about personal responsibility but, as societies, we have a collective responsibility for children. He noted one of the children in his book was a gangster and was responsible for what he did.
"But how did he get that way? He was not born a killer, a drug dealer. The desire is to find the reason why he should die rather than ask why kids dying. Just explain it away."
He added: "Something is profoundly wrong in a society where children can die like that."
He said the Trinidad crime situation did not need to be compared to America to ask questions. He recalled an investigation into knife crime showed that instead of being primarily black kids in London it was 63 per cent white and outside of London.
"We have been talking about knife crime for the past ten to 15 years without facts. That's why you have talk of "where are the parents?" And blaming the music and video games. Data is actually crucial."
He said the book was premised on a simple fact that every day in America nine teens die on average; it was seven at the time of writing the book. He explained most of the deaths did not make the news.
"It is the white noise America is used to."
He chose a random day, November 23, 2013, and ten teens died. They were all male, shot dead and between the ages of nine and 19. He said he spent two years trying to find out who they were. Younge eventually tracked down parents, friends and teachers and also checked their social media accounts.
He said they were hard stories including the youngest who was shot in the head by his mother's ex-lover.
"There is no reason he should have died."