Trinidadians are amazing people. Glorifying each raid led by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, we ignore his 21 November prophecy, in Chaguanas, of 100,000 new criminals in the next five years.
“It is really important for us… to look at secondary crime prevention… If we do not deal with this situation now, in years to come we will be outnumbered because of what we are seeing with certain young persons in society.”
Speaking about gang leaders, he said: “they are looking up at these individuals […] seeing them as the Robin Hoods…”
In this, he echoes columnist Raffique Shah’s 2011 declaration that “we simply do not have the manpower to deal with what we are up against… even if they rotate their crime clampdowns, they face mission impossible.”
In other words, we may win battles but stand a very good chance of losing the war.
This is the context for the 12-year old’s November threat to murder Griffith. We pooh-pooh it but it is not a child’s fantasy. We miss the link between this act and the murders of Sean Luke and Amy Emily Annamuthodo and Akiel Chambers, even as we mourn ritualistically Joash Pantin.
What do they have in common? A harsh uncaring society that subjects them to random acts of violence, setting up mental health problems for the child-survivors.
The chaos does not begin with murder; it is the result of decades of underinvestment in neighbourhoods where schools, health facilities and social services limp. Every day is brutal.
Quick to celebrate those who succeed, like Christian Birchwood who graduated from The UTT with an engineering degree, we ignore Christian’s words: “… stigma attached to the area leads them to be treated in a particular manner on a larger scale.”
Doubly cursed is their lot in life. ‘Study and do well’ does not result in success if you live in these parts.
We promote overcoming the odds as a personal responsibility instead of trying to bring structural change in those environments. This structural inequity condemns many to never have the chance to live normal lives.
Children’s lives are a mirror of adult life: the economic woes of the 1970’s gave us absentee parents and the barrel children, who became the fathers and mothers of today’s criminals. The rise of single parenting and the need for parents to work shift labour reduce the parental ability to monitor, allowing gangs to become attractive.
Our children witness suffering, injury and death, responding with grief and fear. This leads to them developing hardened shells to protect against further hurt feelings. Their rage is primitive as the victim becomes the victimiser spreading the damage all around.
We shatter their values and connection to the chain of humanity, so they adopt a cold, uncaring and tough exterior and are unable to pay attention to details in schools. They underperform in school and we call them ‘duncey’, but they are not.
Parents work out their conflicts in front of the children with all the raw language and men beat women. This creates a sense of instability and impotence. The children then cover it up with bravado and become hardened to feelings.
Their mental health issues are more than depression or anxiety. They have deep hatred for self and suffer a profound loss of trust in both their own community and our nation.
“If you do not care for me, I do not care for you” becomes their mantra. We then characterise them as ‘animals’ socially immoral, inherently violent, yet fail to address their trauma.
Preventing violence against our children and around our children is an important social goal. Effective social policy saves lives. We need to reconceptualise our guidance officers’ work in the schools and reach out to parents. We need to provide meals, primary health care and better resources in schools. What is at stake is the well-being of our next generation.
Will we step up? Or will we barricade ourselves and hope for the best?
Reducing the pain of everyday living for our children will pay great dividends. Gary Griffith and Raffique Shah have both told us that being the biggest bad john in town cannot still the coming storm.
Only we can if we choose to intervene and help our less fortunate families. Will we?
TEACHING STREET LAW
A Minister of National Security cannot possibly go into the field and “fix” the crime problem. His function—on his own initiative and in conjunction with other Ministries and critical stakeholders, like the Judiciary—is to provide policies and recommend legislation that address the structural deficiencies in the system by which we investigate crime and administer criminal justice.
Columnist Raffique Shah’s 2011 echoes declaration that “we simply do not have the manpower to deal with what we are up against… even if they rotate their crime clampdowns, they face mission impossible.”
We must acknowledge the fact that we have behavioral problems at all administrative employment levels and all stratification layers in our society.
We have a tendency to believe in “quick fix” comfort applications.
However it is a hovering assemblage of beliefs that we are intelligent enough to know that this approach does not work.
We have observed that almost all our organizations do not have a plan of action.
We must understand also that “no plan, signals no emergency outlet” and red flags a malfunctioning organization.
Is there a distinction between “quick fix and strategic planning?”
What do they have in common? A harsh uncaring society that subjects them to random acts of violence, setting up mental health problems for the child-survivors.
Should national skeptics declare this a fact or fake news! The political pit bulls would bite :
Substantiate this with “empirical data” or better yet with “evidence-based data.”
The conservatives’ generalization strategizes:
The chaos does not begin with murder; it is the result of decades of underinvestment in neighborhoods where schools, health facilities and social services limp. Every day is brutal
Here the implication suggests a rejection of destructive politics that should return to principles of truth.
It also suggests that we recognize that government and the process by which we go about electing leaders ought never to be mistaken for we must reaffirm our devotion to the rule of law.
We must embrace intellectual independence and fidelity to the truth.
We must reject the politics of the nasty, punitive, and the fact-free. And re-assert a conservatism of high ideals, goodwill, and even better arguments.
It is interesting that you brought up the idea of investments. I will push this a bit more into the National School Curriculum as an elective exposure for Secondary School Students.
Teaching about law, advances Justice for all.
At my school in New York City; we have an elective term teaching Street Law. It advances justice through classroom and community education programs that empower students with the legal and civic knowledge, skills, and confidence to bring about positive change for themselves and others.
Empowering young people through law related education. Law related education is a unique blend of substance and instructional strategies students learn substantive information about law. Democracy, and human Rights through Strategies that promote Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Cooperative Learning, Improved Communication and Conflict Resolution skills, and the ability to participate effectively in society. Law generally reflect and promote a society’s values. Our legal system is influenced by our society’s traditional ideas of Right and Wrong
Dr. Cliff Bertrand
Former New York City Board of Education Public School Administrator.
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Starting point. We are training nurses every year and they are unemployed. Not one primary or secondary school has a nurse. Teachers are ‘pretend nurses’ every day at our schools promoted by the Ministries of Education and Health ‘Pure Madness’ . Put Registered Nurses in our schools now!
That means they will have to provide jobs and pay people, that is not goal right now
We’d talk about this forever with no real, sustainable efforts to deal with this. From the comments I see the individual efforts but a glaring lack of systems and support at a national level. There are many who would like to invest in our children but are not supported y the decision makers. I’m one of those persons. I experienced the lip service, brush off and not interested in that first hand. Determined to make a difference I worked with a small group including my own kids. I don’t have all the answers but I can contribute if ever there’s a real seriousness to fix this big problem. Lasana Liburd this is issue need lots of airtime, thanks for starting. I have access to tools and programs if anyone wants to take over from me.
Nikita there are clearly stakeholders in the group. And I’d certainly put you on to the author if you want to continue the conversation.
This is what happens when both sides of the political divide run conservative. There’s only so many boots whose straps are loose enough to pull.
Please allow me to reshare this along with your caption?
The challenge with Guidance officers are that the function within the ambit of the Primary and secondary school system, which is after the fact. children would have already been poorly socialized so the Guidance Officers are just outing fires. In other words it’s a reactionary rather than a proactive position.
Lasana this has been a Draft Policy Document for ions and has been used as a political football. Tim Goopiesingh demonized it.
The point about what guidance officers—I knew them as guidance counsellors—bring to the table is a good one.
I’d like to hear more about what they are meant to provide for schools, what tools they have and how many of them are in operation.
Lasana Liburd they are meant to provide purposeful intervention and support to clients that are referred or identified by their teachers and principal in the first instance . To treat with issues such as class room management and behavioral issues .
Correct Arlene , Intervention which is reaction to a situation as opposed to prevention of a situation.
Raoul Roger Romain not entirely true , preventive work is done also . I can speak from the perspective of a school social worker in terms of doing different preventive and targeted sessions with schools in an attempt to treat with issues before they become problems . It is at these sessions that issues are sometimes identified and further treated with .
Ok, my challenge is that the support team mentioned are aware of the issues, what lobbying takes place in the interest and protection of the child?
Please give me some examples, who has protested against a drug dealer plying his trade withing 100 yards of a school as a violation of child rights.
As abuse, as grooming. Who hold who accountable.
Raoul Roger Romain , sessions are often set up to target teacher parents children and other stakeholders , these sessions may involve teams from the ministry of education or national security and or other like organizations .
Raoul Roger Romain once abuse is reported then the role of the SSW or Go is to counsel , support and report . The police is to investigate and charge
Ok, please answer my question. I have sat on many of these policy making forums and workshops. It’s the best lunch you would eat.
Please Arlene give me statistics on total amount of people who have been charged for child abuse in 2016.
I do not have all the answers to all the questions you may have , I will be the first to admit our system is lacking resources , clear policies and policy implementation . When you have one SSW or Go servicing three and four schools that alone tells you how limited the manpower is .
Raoul Roger Romain I am not in a position to give you that kind of stats
I currently know of a 15yr old young lady who lives with her 22 yr old boyfriend, a report has been made to the school and police and the show continues.
Exactly, we are now going somewhere, it’s almost like a showpiece to get world funding the government could say we have certain manpower in place.
Raoul Roger Romain in this regard it would be the child protection unit to act and remove the child , the children authority and also the cpu to investigate and charge those responsible for the child being in this position
Arlene they have not even acknowledged the report.
Arlene Yasmine Paul Hot chic.. that’s what they think we do. Guidance counselor/officers mandate is to deal with career and academic development. Social Workers deal with the personal social aspect. But as you and I are aware of we don’t have enough personnel and resources to deal with a lot of these issues so we do what we can.
Royette Williams James we can only do so much and even as we do purposeful engagement , we are only recognized in times of extreme crisis , and just barely
Arlene Yasmine Paul Basically someone said it nicely.. We spinning top in mud!!
Royette Williams James correct even with the amount of work we ate expected to do and no resources .
Arlene Yasmine Paul oh yessssssssssss!! Hence my response. We are sent in to fix damaged goods at the drop of a hat. The long and short of this is OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM IS IN A MESS. A lot of the kids who are referred can’t cope with the curriculum, they have serious social issues as well as mental heath issues to contend with and trust me the list goes on and on. Sigh. It’s a sad story what’s happening in this place but we do the best we can
Arlene Yasmine Paul Sigh!! Well hun if we had to really think about that we won’t leave our homes in the morning!! Love for the job and the kids drives us to do what we have to do despite of!!
Mr Lasana Liburd the counselors are those one contract and the officers are the permanent ones but we both have the same job specs.
Royette Williams James girl social policies sadly lacking, parents can not access grants but ministry officials stealing money and telling parents that they are to young to get certain grants , go and work . And this is without even conducting an assessment. ????
Royette Williams James correct
Arlene Yasmine Paul Do you have court clothes? Lol. It’s sad my Dear!! But I agree with the writer we are not placing emphasis on our kids. Remember my famous line at workshops “Trinidad is not a child friendly society.” Pain for our kids!! Jeezzz
Royette Williams James you are real about the situation and as I stated earlier, the place to start is in ECCE
You girls are burnt out
Raoul Roger Romain Sir burnt out is an understatement. Ask Arlene Yasmine Paul Retail Therapy and Driving Therapy helps me yes!!
Raoul Roger Romain Sir lets go back even further “ straight from the womb”.
Royette Williams James all the shopping I do I have all kinda court clothes lol . Plus remember I was based at the court before I came back over so I gots the clothes
Arlene Yasmine Paul lmsoooooo. Hahahahahahaha. Oh lorsh. Girl we put ourselves up for it so we have to ask God for strength and everything else for sake of the babies. As I say I might be able to save all but I can save a few. Those we have due to our interventions will remember and contribute to making tnt better. These kids need all the help they can get yes!!
Royette Williams James very true, as much as we would want to save all it is realistically impossible , but if we can touch a few and change behavior then at least we made a difference
Royette I never knew that. Thanks
Lasana Liburd know you know hun!! Lol
Mr Lasana Liburd!! You need to do a piece on the support systems that are in place for the nations children, what the powers that be think of our interventions, if the kids do benefit as well as treatment received. You will learn of things which will make u tear up!!
Royette Williams James I agree Lasana Liburd that would be a great piece
My point is if our social challenges are not addressed from a change as early as preschoolers we will continue to spin top in mud, it’s the age the minds are most impressionable.
I wonder how regulated that industry was. Not that I’d want to criticize her for starting the ball rolling. A start is a start and it is up to others to build on it.
Why can’t we build on it now? Aren’t the building blocks still there?
The curriculum was well put together with room for some tweaking to make it a complete guide. It placed emphasis on the holistic development of the child. and by extension had a supporting cast of Quality Assurance Officers, Family Community Support Officers and Curriculum Officers, all working together to ensure that most if not all needs of the child were met.
Over the years we have blatantly ignored the structure and foundation that was well orchestrated by Dr. Hazel Manning (No Child Would Be Left Behind). The issues of crime and the reintegration of a community / society was in the hands of the Early Childhood Care and Education in Trinidad and Tobago.
Good evening my people, we have and continue to sorely miss the mark on the way forward to create a paradigm shift in the protection, development and character building of our youth and by extension parental / community involvement.