'We have to tame this crime monster'
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
As one of the most respected and longest-serving ministers in St Mary, Reverend Kermitt Jones has been shocked by the wave of violent crime afflicting the parish in recent times.
With more than two months of the years still remaining, there have already been more killings in St Mary than there were in 2015, and Jones, who serves as the parish overseer for the Pentecostal Church of God, fears that the situation may escalate if church and community leaders fail to take immediate action.
Speaking to Family and Religion earlier this week, the 80-year-old minister said: "I think a lot of the issues we are having start from family feuds, and some of the problems I'm seeing include rape and the abuse of young children in the Port Maria area of St Mary.
"I think one of the reasons these things are happening is because a lot of the time, there is no male figure in the family, and if there is, he is not taking up his responsibilities. When there is no responsible man in the home, it leaves the poor women in trouble, and because of that, she has to go elsewhere to look for help, and that's how some of these situations can lead to murder."
Nevertheless, Jones, who attended Bible school in the US in the late 1950s and is a recipient of the Governor General's Award, believes many of these concerns can be addressed through greater social and community cohesion.
TOO MANY BARRIERS
He explained: "Number one; the Church needs to come together because we have too many denominational barriers. Once, we had things like the Neighbourhood Watch, Red Cross, and Bible Society that used to help make the community, but everything is broken down now. And when these things come up, you hear people in the community asking: 'What am I going to get out of it?'
"You can start these things for a couple of months, but if people are not getting money and things like that, they stop coming and it breaks down. I also think getting more young people involved would help because we really need a united force where the Church is concerned."
Jones notes that a government mediation centre that opened one year ago in Port Maria should have made a great impact on lowering the crime rate, but local residents have been unable to use the facility because of a lack of resources.
He explained: "We have a mediation centre in Port Maria, but last week at our annual magistrates meeting, we were discussing how the venue needs tables and chairs so that people can sit down and reason out their differences.
"The problem is that all these things fall on the police and JPs to sort out because right now, there is nothing in there. But I think once we get the resources we need, the mediation centre will make a very big difference. Right now, the amount of things that I have to do as a JP is a big problem."