Letter of the Day | Rescue boys from violence
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Crime in Jamaica is committed by mainly poor and uneducated young men, notes the Inter-American Development Bank in a recent report. The study, which disaggregates homicide data based on gender, avers that 90 per cent of all victims of homicide are males. This has social and economic implications for national growth. Jamaica loses possible economic potential when men are murdered in their most productive years.
Other than the economic losses resulting from the rampant killing of young men, many children are left without fathers to provide guidance. Scholars such as David Popenoe and Sara McLanahan have extensively documented the effects of fatherlessness, ranging from delinquency to antisocial behaviour in adulthood.
Furthermore, treating the victims of violent crime puts a strain on the health system. In addition, money spent on crime-prevention strategies and the rehabilitation of offenders could be better invested in education and healthcare.
Policymakers have implemented training programmes to prevent the involvement of unattached males in crime. Though a logical strategy, training programmes alone cannot solve the problem of youth involvement in crime.
A major reason for the large number of young males participating in crime is a dysfunctional home
. According to anthropologist with a focus on crime and violence, Dr Herbert Gayle, in some communities, 50 per cent of young men are involuntarily out of school.
As a result, they are likely to become easy targets for gangs hunting recruits.
Studies examining the relationship between young men and crime are not foreign to policymakers and ordinary citizens.
Therefore, if the problem is acknowledged, why is it not getting sufficient attention? It is evident that the differential treatment meted out to boys and girls can explain the higher levels of male delinquency.
Jamaica has an aggressively masculine culture that often places boys at a disadvantage. Men should be expected to fend for themselves; however, it becomes problematic when little boys are forced to stop their schooling to take care of the family.
Also, girls are socialised to do well academically, while boys are encouraged to be adventurous and roam the streets, thus making them prey for criminal elements. Therefore, Jamaican culture may be enabling young men to become criminals and academic failures.
One way to stem the participation of young men in crime would be to have more social workers providing support to single mothers. Additionally, parents must be encouraged to attend The Parents Place, an institution dedicated to improving the skills of parents. Men have an important role in society to play as leaders and innovators. Hence, if we do not train better boys, we will remain a weak society, ravaged by violence and poverty.