Wed | Aug 21, 2019

Garth Rattray | Jamaica, the monster factory

Published:Monday | February 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM

At the peak of our world dominance in the sprints, we often boasted that Jamaica is a sprint factory. We were proud of the achievements of our athletes and readily embraced the well-deserved title bestowed upon us.

Given our runaway murder rate, with casualty figures surpassing those in some active war zones; given that we have produced innumerable cold-blooded criminal monsters, we ought to acknowledge and embrace the nomenclature of 'monster factory'. Perhaps in doing so, our citizenry will come to the realisation that crime and murder are products of our society and will be inclined to play their individual roles in bringing about the necessary change to reduce them.

I am shocked and extremely disappointed in so-called responsible and influential politicians who publicly proclaim that it was the People's National Party (PNP) that mashed up the country and is, therefore, to blame for our current crime situation. One, in particular, espouses Christianity and has worked in very important positions. I used to ascribe a sense of fairness, sobriety and thoughtfulness to him. I am sorely disenchanted and dumbstruck by his unchristian-like, unfair, false, politically polarising and inciting accusations.

On the other hand, I was extremely pleased and impressed with Eastern St Thomas Member of Parliament Dr Fenton Ferguson, when he sought to bring some sanity to our desperate search for reasons for our high murder rate. He rightfully defended the minister of national security, Robert Montague, amid calls for his removal because of our escalating level of crime.




The Gleaner reported that he asserted: "It was unfair to blame the minister alone for the crime situation now gripping the country." The report further quoted him as saying that, "Both major political parties, including the former PNP administration in which I served as minister, should share the blame for the growing crime monster."

Dr Ferguson said, "Jamaica is our country ... . We can't be talking about 'Jamaica, land we love' and at the political level we continue to be tribalists and divided, especially on matters of crime, health, and education." He then voiced a truth that several of us promote: "It is my view that all of us must take some responsibility, starting from the family, the communities, the critical stakeholders, our young people, the Church."

Among this administration's Five-Pillar Crime Strategy is a plan to seek out the youth to steer them clear of nefarious activities and groups. There is also a plan for attacking crime through social development ... to address the root causes of crime - poverty, poor parenting, poor education, lack of conflict resolution, and hostile communities. However, the citizens must play their individual roles.

Parenting must be taken extremely seriously. The days of 'wild shots' (spreading seed indiscriminately), 'nuff gyal' (showing off a high libido), 'nuff yout' (trying to prove manhood by siring many children), producing 'puss pickney' (having children for several men, hoping for support for all but getting support for none, so they end up essentially feral), and having 'soldiers' (males that will protect and provide through violence) must end.


'it takes a village to raise a child'


The Government must very actively encourage and enforce responsible parenting, but individuals and communities must do their part.

The age-old concept and practice of communal parenting needs to be resurrected. Our African ancestors did this with tremendous success. All children were viewed as the collective responsibility of the village (their local community). In today's Jamaica, parents sequester and coddle their children to the detriment of the kids and the society at large. Those children learn poor social skills and their bad attitudes spread to other children faster than viral illnesses. Soon, those, 'bad-breed pickney' become prevalent and the entire country pays the price.

The social amenities and access to health, nutrition and education in underprivileged communities must be urgently addressed. Bad living conditions lead to bad attitudes, bad tempers and bad thoughts towards the society that stood idly by and let them suffer.

There has been an ugly schism in our society that has led to two or perhaps three generations of Jamaicans who hold little value for their own lives, no value for ours, and a willingness to do anything, even become murderous monsters, to survive.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and