THE EDITOR: The decision by the Prime Minister to appoint a select committee to implement a “line of education that will steer young people away from criminal activity” is a step in the right direction but the question to ask is how formidable is such a task. These young impressionable minds have been exposed to criminal activity of varied forms and fashion, at every level of the society, and one has to wonder at the dent which would have been made on their mindset as regards indulging in criminal activity.
Through the media et al they have been witnesses to much of the same: like abusing a child entrusted to your care or a woman who you promised to cherish and love, or killing a family member and leaving their kin in unimaginable grief.
Or away from the blood and pain, depriving a poor family of its only means of livelihood, their car still on instalment, or stealing from a farmer and killing him in the process, so much so as for many like him to lose faith in the protective services, or even indulging in the ultimate – violating the sanctity of places of worship, even stealing a church bell.
Or with equal remorselessness, “digging out the customer’s eyes” with exorbitant prices on the pretext of the pandemic or the rain, both now on the wane, or violating the trust placed in you by facilitating corrupt land deals, or in the public service to be hardly of service, especially to the elderly and infirm.
And that violation of duty carried to the highest level, as in the allegations of quid pro quo in a current legal issue, malicious as that allegation seems to some even as many agree, or flaunting yourself as a government official in the public eye despite accusations of wrongdoing swirling around you.
Or to be indifferent to the demands of your ministerial portfolio, as in escalating crime and poor infrastructure, as you continue to underperform to the detriment of the people, and at the top, self-assured and arrogant in not having to answer for your stewardship because of the unquestioning loyalty of the tribe for a mess of pottage.
The detailed selection above is deliberate for it is a mirror unto ourselves, indeed a montage of wrongdoing in this country, and being as pervasive as it is from top to bottom, reveals a national mindset for criminal behaviour without the fear of consequence to the point of being almost “cultural.” Is it any wonder, then, that our youth, being part and parcel of such an environment, would become similarly inclined?
There can be little doubt that among many of the youth the criminal mindset is fast becoming a deep-rooted malaise and the select committee appointed by the PM must avoid mere plasters and quick fixes for this festering sore. It must instead be developmental and long-term in its approach, incentivising parents to inculcate the values of right and wrong in their siblings, legislating in such a manner that the schools with appropriate programmes can build on this foundation set in the home.
That the church must redirect its attention to the misguided youth in the society instead of merely focusing on the “saved,” and again through organisational reform arrange for positive socialisation among the youth through peer group interaction, sports and the like. And as they grow and develop with the skills they will have acquired in their varied places of learning, for the Government to be creative in providing employment opportunities for the young people emerging to illustrate that crime is not the alternative.
And finally but critically so, to reinforce this positive mindset emerging with a sense that the justice system is fair and just, but most of all, with our leaders setting a good example of what good leadership is all about for the emerging young ones to follow.
There can be no quick fixes for this pandemic of crime. Above is the only way, in my own humble opinion, that the Prime Minister and his committee can achieve their goal of “steering young people away from participation or being desensitised to…criminal activity.”
DR ERROL N BENJAMIN