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'Look out, I'm coming to take my country back'

Published:Thursday | January 15, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer

A young Jamaican woman studying overseas with her eyes set on combatting hoodlums and fighting criminality at the highest level is urging Government to address ills identified in a survey carried out by the Centre for Leadership and Government at the University of the West Indies that Jamaican youths are coming up at the short end of the stick.

With the survey showing that, if given the opportunity, the majority of Jamaicans between ages 14 and 25 would readily leave the land of their birth to seek opportunities in foreign lands, Shantelee Brown, who says she falls in that category of youths, has described herself as a "refugee from rural Jamaica".

Limited Career Choices

The 25-year-old who repeatedly declares her unequivocal love for her country, is a university student in the United States. She told The Gleaner that limited career choices in universities across the country have forced her from her homeland.

"I am the kind of girl who loves a good challenge, and so, I would also like to create history by becoming Jamaica's first female national security minister," said Brown. "Tell the criminals to be on the lookout because I'm coming to take my country back," she added.

Brown lamented that critical courses in forensic psychology; speech language pathology; biomedical engineering; criminology; foreign service; industrial engineering; information systems; manufacturing engineering; neuroscience; software engineering and respiratory therapy are not available.

"For example, in high school, they don't teach how to cite work using Modern Language Association/American Psychology Association (MLA /APA) format in Jamaica," said Brown.

"It's impossible to compete for employment in a global market with the limited career choices offered to us through our colleges," added Brown, who is studying psychology at City University of New York.

Brown disclosed that she would like to earn a masters/doctorate in forensic psychology and return to Jamaica after gaining some work experience.

Like the majority of young Jamaicans, Brown is concerned about the high crime rate in Jamaica and the debilitating effects on youth.

Nearly half the number of youths interviewed in the survey (49.8 per cent) highlighted crime as the major problems facing the country; unemployment, 19.2 per cent, and poverty six per cent.

Brown asserted that her greatest desire is to see a crime-free Jamaica. As such, she suggested it should be mandatory that all members of the security forces undergo annual psychological evaluation.

Clear Court Backlog

She expressed the view that a first order of business in the fight against crime is clearing the backlog of cases in courthouses by limiting the number of times a case can adjourned or parties involved can be absent.

Brown suggested that certificates on court reporting, medical transcription and coding, massage therapy, among a range of others, should be available to those who do not wish to spend four years in college.

In the context of rehabilitation of prison inmates, Brown is of the view that the successful completion of at least five educational subjects should be mandatory for persons who spend more than one year in jail.

On the economic front, she suggested that Government hasten to clear the hurdles to legalise marijuana and export to countries/states which are selling medical marijuana. "That could help pay off our debt," she said.

She further suggested that prime ministers should be directly voted in with a two-term limit; senators should be elected and it should be mandatory that members of parliament reside in the constituency they seek to represent.