Trinidad and Tobago has failed its children

THE EDITOR: This country has, for a very long time, failed its young people.

Every so often when crime and criminality grab the life of a youngster, there is a public outcry – from the average joe right up to the Prime Minister – as was the case following the death of Kimani Francis on Tuesday.

Tuesday was a particularly horrendous day for the country's youth, as in an unrelated incident, a 12-year-old boy was slashed so badly that he died not too long after being attacked by a male relative. That incident also saw the boy's mother being murdered.

Then there was news of the sexual assault on a 13-year-old child by the very people you would expect to protect her against such violence – her parents.

With Trinis being well-known for their nine-day-wonder mentality, after sufficient time has elapsed, everyone goes back to their lives until the next outrageous act is perpetrated on our children.

Then the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth starts all over again.

Quite simply put, we have failed our youths.

We have failed them from within the home, when parents and other adults in the family give very poor examples to impressionable and immature minds of how adults behave.

Within the family, children learn how to curse, how to disrespect women, how to lie, how to steal, how to connive, how to dry and package weed, how to shoot and kill in popular video games.

We have failed them in the school system, when so-called slow learners are deemed dunces and cast aside.

Where children are not given an opportunity to expand their "learning" save and except from within the pages of Math and English books. Where their creativity is stymied. Where they learn that fighting or hugging up and kissing in the classroom, then making a video and posting it online, is normal.

We have failed them at the level of the the village. When animalistic men "soot" women and even clearly underaged girls and make comments about the shape and size of certain body parts. When the village badman tries to lure young boys and girls into a life of crime and deviancy. "Youth, you ever hold a gun? Come and hold mine..."

When Sean Luke was found dead in a cane field, his young body defiled in the most callous manner with a cane stalk.

We have failed them at the level of religious institutions. When so-called holy men do unholy things to members of their flock, including children.

We have failed them at the level of law enforcement. When crime is now endemic and young people, along with the rest of society, gamble with their very lives when they close their eyes to sleep at night.

When poor detection rates and even worse conviction rates mean a more emboldened criminal ready to shoot, to rob, to maim, to rape and to kill.

We have failed them at the level of governance. When those in power give cheap lip-service when it suits their agenda such as when a child is murdered, but afterwards do nothing tangible to prevent or at the very least, minimise such crimes and violence.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't a so-called leader of society once say his job was not to make citizens feel safe?

So yes, TT, when it comes to failing our young people, we have passed with flying colours!

Fair warning: when today's child ends up as tomorrow's criminal, don't blame only their parents. Blame all of us.


San Fernando


"Trinidad and Tobago has failed its children"

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