Wed | Sep 30, 2020

Invest in our youth

Published:Saturday | August 8, 2020 | 12:10 AM


Some time ago I wrote in The Gleaner about gang violence plaguing August Town, where I suggested that one of the solutions to fighting crime was to ensure that the guns were removed from the streets. However, I want to suggest other areas for improvement.

I read that six members of a gang were killed over the Emancipation weekend. What was sad is that most of them were under the age of 30 and one of them was a high-school student in Clarendon.

French sociologist Emile Durkheim argued that parts of society are interdependent and that this interdependency imposes structure on the behaviour of institutions and their members. Robert Merton argued that access to socially accepted goals plays a part in determining whether a person conforms or deviates.

In his column in The Gleaner titled ‘Independent but not interdependent’, Dr Garth Rattray alluded to the fact that “we have political, racial, social, geographic and economic lines of division”. Dr Rattray also mentioned that “success for one group fostered distrust and animosity in the other”.

While I may not be in full agreement with this statement, I can understand what Dr Rattray was alluding to. Many years ago I was having a discussion with an unemployed person, who said when he sees working-class people going to work he would be jealous.

We need to find a way to change these mental models of the youth soon. I recall a speech by Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica awardee Leighton McKnight, who spoke about underprivileged youth in the society who could be more successful if they were given the chance. He has been assisting young people financially to achieve their ambitions via a college education. He ended the vote of thanks by imploring members to adopt the maxim ‘each one help one’, which I think was a brilliant suggestion.

The solution is that our Government and the private sector should collaborate to establish a national policy to help the disadvantaged youth so that the society can be better off in the long run.