Letter of the Day | Brute force won't beat down crime
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Crime has been a matter of increasing concern in Jamaica. In response, we have called for harsher sanctions and even for the police to increase their use of force! We have blamed the Government, and the 'ghetto yutes'. We have worn black, gathered to pray, and talked and talked, and talked.
However, as a society, have we truly considered our own contributions to the persistent issue of crime, both in its proliferation as well as its reduction?
Those of us crying out for strategies aimed at crime intervention must consider the following:
1. What role have we played in the oppression, exclusion, negative labelling and systemic frustration of Jamaica's most vulnerable from slavery to present?
2. When we cry for our own public protection and community safety, are we aware that there are communities with families where children have grown accustomed to the sounds of gunshots, have witnessed murders, and are subjected to abuse in many forms with little attention and very little intervention?
What does it truly take to see change in an individual involved in criminality?
The retributive reaction is force and suppression, a method that many perpetrators of crime are already familiar with growing up in our coarse society. Can this truly be expected to stop crime?
We have seen where relationships built on support followed by accountability are more likely to bring change, such as fostering immersion in an environment that models moral behaviour. That change is a process, and one heavily dependent on strong support and encouragement, which the State has rarely been in a position to give.
It is, therefore, important for us to challenge our perceptions about those involved in criminality in order to gain the proper perspective, and determine how we can get involved to combat the beast of criminality. One such way is to find an NGO that is intervening with the target population and provide financial, skills-based or mentorship support. Sometimes one has to extend love before it is reciprocated.
Social Worker, Student