Ronald Mason, Contributor
Every convicted criminal, as well as those awaiting adjudication for allegedly committing criminal acts, is born of a mother and father. Now, why make an obvious statement? If we tackle the problem of crime seriously, we must return to those who have the earliest influence on our youngsters. We must strengthen the parenting process.
The Good Book admonishes us to bring up a child in the correct way, and when grown, he or she is unlikely to depart from the teachings.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as being under 18 years old, except where local laws differentiate. Bringing a child into a world and community where the values and attitudes is emphasised. It insists that both parents have common responsibility for the upbringing of the child.
Where there is need for help, the Government should give assistance. We already have government assistance in the form of PATH and the Citizen Security and Justice Programme. Other social interventions in the form of schooling and health care are also available. However, what is severely lacking are the sanctions to be applied for the failures of the parents.
This brings to the fore the introduction of court-ordered sanctions. The former minister of education, now leader of the Opposition, in August 2011 offered the suggestion that parents should be held accountable for the literacy of their children. If we can propose the standards of accountability and sanctions for literacy, why not for the control and shared ownership of the child's deviant behaviour?
Parenting is a right. It, however, comes with moral obligations. It is the parents' responsibility to instil discipline, offer guidance, and be role models for their offspring. This society is so lax that prospective parents sometimes see their only role in the delivery room - as in having out one's lot of unplanned children.
Let us get real. These parents who embrace this behaviour should be educated to have all the sex they want, but since we did not share in the pleasure, don't leave us with the responsibility. Use birth control. If you want something to love, buy a doll.
Those family members, parents in particular, who hide the fleeing felon like the mother in the Hanover hills recently must be sent to do hard labour. It cannot be that they produce children only to prey on society. That method of wealth redistribution is exacting a very high toll in Jamaica.
If this does not have the desired change in behaviour, let me introduce the most taboo of all subjects in this Jamaica, land we love.
No to the multiple unwanted births. No to the weak response that you did not really think you would become pregnant. No to saying, my mother had eight or 10, and we all are good contributors of society. That was then. This is now. Crime, murder specifically, is destroying this country. We are numbered in the top five countries for murder. If there are fewer numbers to supply the crime machinery, there will be a positive impact over time. Here comes involuntary sterilisation.
It is a topic that leads to an automatic recoil. It is a harsh and permanent solution to what could be, on an individual basis, a correctable problem. However, we have had many years of this high level of criminal activity. All other methods have proven less than adequate as a means of bringing crime under control.
Criminal activity, by its very nature, needs human involvement. As it's said, guns don't kill people, people kill people - using guns and other offensive weapons. This requires that we, as a society, take a hard look at how the crime industry is maintained and sometimes expanded: people.
These persons were once young and without the ability to form criminal intent. However, more persons are clearly acquiring criminal intent. This leads to the means to commit the horrendous crime. We have juveniles being associated with allegations of having committed 10 murders.
Not much parental guidance
Take a look at the personal history of a large percentage of those who commit crime. Not much parental guidance in the formative years. Undereducated, socially unexposed, and with a continuing sense of anger at persons and institutions identifiable and sometimes randomly selected. "Mek we mek a duppy" is all it takes. Then we have another senseless unexplainable murder.
This has got to stop. Now. Don't give me this liberal claptrap about poverty. We are a middle-income country; not the poorest in the world. Yet we are among the top five murder spots on earth. Things are hard. Unemployment is high, but there was NEVER a period in this country of Jamaica, since the abolition of slavery, where we had full employment. Discipline and mores once characterised normality.
We must begin to slow the resupply pipeline of warm bodies to the criminal network. If ever there was a need for now thinking on how to tackle crime in Jamaica, it is now. Hold the parents accountable at the earliest stages. The parents must be provided with the intervention and assistance to be good parents and role models.
Parents should be encouraged to have only the children they can adequately care for. Payment of child support must be strictly enforced. If this fails, then on to involuntary sterilisation.
Ronald Mason is an immigration attorney-at-law, mediator, and talk-show host. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.