BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -- SEVERAL months ago, I was watching ZIZ when the six-point crime plan was announced to the Federation from our Prime Minister. I was hopeful that this plan would adequately address what has become a most critical national issue. At first, my guttural reaction was in response to finger pointing over what has been the politicalisation of crime, which seems disingenuous. After all, how can a new administration be responsible for our alarming murder rate just months after taking office? It seemed that the core causal issues were being missed somewhere along the way.
Crime, of course, cannot find a single source of blame as it is systemic—to the family, school system, village, church, and government. As long as the Bible records, there has been good and evil, right and wrong — and violent crime against another.
The question to ask and answer; falls outside of ‘blame’. Perhaps the answer to crime begins with an awareness and an inner ‘will’ to move away from our comfort zones, to take an active role where and when we see an at-risk brother or sister. To find a deep connection; to care for another, to invest our time and love to another who is struggling and seeking a better path.
Caring is a heart activity
Last night (February 9), our Prime Minister gave another national address, announcing new leadership and measures being taken to curb and reduce crime. It was comforting to learn of all the positive steps being taken to deal with our current crises.
The tactical decisions announced, combined with the plea for humility before our God, will move to deal with this short term crises. On a practical matter, we can follow as a society, our own ‘Social 6-point Crime Plan’. Here are some ideas:
1 - Repeat offenders
Those released from prison, absent of skills training, are likely to go back to what they knew before. Those now in leadership must work to rehabilitate those now serving time, and set policy and programs to ensure those leaving our prison system have a clear path to success. Another excellent protocol is to assign a probation officer for a period of time, that includes drug testing following release.
2 - Church
We have community centres and church halls, we can ensure that we offer weekly activities that engage and demonstrate a God-centered path over of life of petty crime. What sports, music, art, and employment options exist as positive outlets? As church leaders and congregations, we must reach out to those single parent homes with at-risk youth. We must stop by these homes regularly to demonstrate our authentic love and care.
3 - Schools
As school administrators and teachers, we must identify and reach out to every soul we are concerned about. We know them as they are in our classrooms. We know them as they are the ones who are truant. We must reach out and make a difference in these lives. Let us get together as teachers to provide positive outlets and programs. Sometimes it’s the small words of encouragement and the few moments we ‘connect’ that can elevate a young mind.
4 - Police
When it comes to our small and connected Federation, it seems that we all have family we look out for and protect. When we learn of a pending investigation, is there a temptation to tip a hand to protect our own, even it means an investigation is cut short and derailed? Are we taking time during off-hours to get out in the community to connect and show how much we care? Are we using finger printing technologies and protocols during booking, and finger print collection at crime scenes? Public safety is a difficult job where most of your good deeds are invisible to those you serve. We respect you and know that you are our unsung heroes. We need you in our communities after-hours to mentor those you know are headed for trouble.
5 - Business owners
You represent the wealth of our nation and the dollars you earn are from the very at-risk families that patronise your business. Giving back means getting involved. Your donations and community involvement matters. If you are reading this now, and can’t remember the last time you ‘gave back’ in a significant and impactful way, maybe now is the time.
6 - Media
This media house was recently challenged to make a positive difference, to elevate our narrative. Instead of drawing most of the attention to the negative, we were encouraged to provide insight and content that elevates our nation. We have accepted this challenge and appreciate the feedback. While we must report news, we also represent the voice of the people. The new articles under Nation Building have been written to stimulate our nation building discussion.
Crime is not a blame game.
While we may never eradicate crime, we can show how much we care to our brothers and sisters who are leaving the prison system. As a nation under God, we can reach out to our at-risk youth and families. As a national family, we can each commit to showing love and concern wherever we see a need to be ‘our brother’s keeper’. It’s unfair to use blame as an escape or excuse. Each of us can make a difference, and if there is such a concept as blame, it would fall on those who can make a difference but who choose to do nothing at all.