Written by Patrick Martin, MD, Citizen & Student Posted On: Tuesday, 07 February 2017
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An official directive to "Rough Dem Up" may be unpolished but exasperation over unrelenting violence is justified. Criminal activity appears immune to communal supplication and change in government. Too many citizens are held hostage in their homes suffering psychosomatic ailments such as panic attacks, chest tightness, abdominal pain, high blood pressure and racing heart.
A line in the sand has to be drawn. No other statistic proves the gravity of the crime situation than nine year old children in violent gangs. This RSS disclosure is not "breaking news". Since the early 1990s, cabinets and consultations have seen the evidence of a growing counter-culture. In 2017, if it takes external people to tell us what we already know, so be it. The question is: What happens after the RSS and consultants leave? At least one development is vowed. According to the Molineux Declaration, family petitions to the Office of the Prime Minister to intervene in the course of justice will be rejected.
Who are the parents demanding high level interference in police investigations? Most likely, they are the ones who abused teachers when they were called them in to discuss their child's disruptive behaviour in school. Such parents are our "factories of delinquency" (Ramesh Deosaran). They are the fathers who "don't care" and the mothers who "can't cope" or "won't care". If there is a dominant grandmother, the girl mother and her children are treasured only for the hush money and child support they generate.
An explanation for the upsurge in youth violence in the Federation lies is the formula: "Drugs + Gangs + Guns" (World Health Organization, 2003). Of the three factors, gangs are entirely homegrown. The gang is a substitute family supplying children's needs when parents fail. Dons (male or female) have the resourcefulness to program hearts and minds to carry out unspeakable acts of terror. The younger the recruits, the better foot soldiers they are likely to be. Age is just a number.
The first duty of government is to protect its citizens. Drones, closed circuit television and stop and search operations are good show but "the proof of the [bread] pudding is in its eating". There is 1 police officer for every 125 residents most of whom are law-abiding. Therefore, the miscreant few should be readily identified and intercepted by 24/7 community patrolling – the essence of policing.
In public affairs, nothing meaningful happens without the political will. "Rough Dem Up" has legitimate targets. Chief among them are men who rape and impregnate thirty to fifty girls every year and women who pimp their children. The inescapable truth is that sexual offences are endemic and destabilize the family fabric. "What is done to children, they will do to society" (Karl Menninger).
Who else deserves a share of "roughing up"? Stiff financial and other penalties should apply to professionals who violate the law by not disclosing knowledge of a sexually abused child or pregnant girl, if at all. Similar treatment should be meted out to negligent adults who place small children in risky settings such as street jams, movie theatres and vehicles without appropriate restraints. Additionally, since derelict property provides safe harbor for illegal activity (as well as rodents and litter), owners have to be "roughed up". Private property cannot trump public welfare.
The purpose of public policy is to improve the condition of people (We not I). All prospering countries place the welfare of children - the future - at the center of public policy. The Federation's progress is highly dependent on the attention afforded family and community security, safety and well-being. Health personnel and workers in early childhood and social services see the warning signs of dysfunctional parents, bullies and thugs long before problems emerge for teachers and the police. Early remediation must apply to the extent possible. The police's special victims unit has a profound role to play in prosecuting sexual offenders. Masked, mobile and armed insurgents are a matter for the military.
Optimal investment upstream in health, education, skills training and social protection significantly reduces the likelihood of maladjusted youth downstream. The Federation's social sector has competent personnel serving in several agencies buttressed by good legislation. Professionals must have the autonomy and resources to work collaboratively, and the space to enforce the law. For greater societal peace to prevail, the minority, at all levels, who undermine human rights and opportunities, must be "roughed up".
Patrick Martin MD
Pediatrician & Physician Executive
Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis
I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying - Nelson Mandela