Rural Express: Clarendon community marches against crime
Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writer
The blistering mid-morning sun bearing down on southern Clarendon last Friday didn't prevent scores of youngsters, community leaders, including the parish custos, the police and other sectors of the society, from marching in solidarity against an upsurge in crime and the increasing the prevalence of teen pregnancy in the Vere area of Clarendon.
The marchers, who numbered more than 300, took to the streets of Lionel Town, Vere, to register their disgust with what they call an upsurge in violent crimes and the growing incidence of teenage pregnancy. Just recently, the area saw the beheading of a community leader and the gruesome murder of a businessman.
According to executive director of the National Association of Parish Development Committee Eurica Douglas, the anti-crime and teenage-pregnancy street parade was a sensitisation and educational initiative targeting community leaders, the youth, and children.
She said the initiative, under the auspices of Custos of Clarendon William Shagoury, the theme of which is 'Put It Dung, You Nuh Ready', also seeks to highlight the negative impact of crime on youth, as well as the repercussions of early engagement in sexual activities.
"Today's street parade is an effort to bring community leaders, the youth, and various sectors of the society under one umbrella to look at the ongoing issues of crime and teen pregnancy in the Vere area of Clarendon," explained Douglas.
"The Put It Dung, You Nuh Ready initiative is basically to build capacity and awareness among the youth and community leaders on crime and teen pregnancy; and to educate children about the necessary agencies and stakeholders that exist to help tackle the issues of crime and teen pregnancy; and to encourage children to speak out about specific issues that affect them," she said.
In prefacing her rationale for the need for awareness and intervention in the parish's southern region, Douglas pointed to the recent robbery and killing of Chinese businessman Jun Peng and the beheading of community leader Lucian Anderson late last year in Vere.
The executive director also noted that the problem had become particularly chronic in Hayes, Raymonds, and New Bowens, which prompted the Vere Development Area Committee (DAC) to ask the Clarendon Parish Development Committee to intervene in bringing awareness to the issues.
"You will remember the beheading of community leader Lucian Anderson and the abduction, robbery, and murder of businessman Jun Peng in recent times; and this has been just a microcosm of some of the problems faced here ... in Raymonds, New Bowens, and other areas in Hayes," Douglas lamented.
The street parade, which is the brainchild of the Clarendon Parish Development Committee's Youth and Child Protection Committee, was funded by UNICEF and the Child Development Agency and was supported by the National Youth Service, the National Centre for Youth Development, the Ministry of Health, the Lionel Town Police Youth Club, the Citizen Safety and Justice Programme, the Victim Support Unit, Youth for Change, the Ministry of National Security, the Clarendon Safety and Security Branch, and the York Town and Halse hall Police Youth Clubs.