Over the past three weeks, every other day, the Trinidad and Tobago public is greeted with news of another murder, or two or three. The callousness of those who perpetrate these crimes cannot be denied, however, the debate still rages on as to what is the cause and what can be done to stem the tide of blood flowing through our streets.
What is clear is that there is absolutely no regard or value for life, and the gunmen think that holding a “piece” gives them licence to end anyone’s existence on earth. Whether it’s for turf, money, position or the affections of some female, our boys and men are being relegated to a life behind bars or buried in a box.
The solution must lie in citizens of T&T taking personal responsibility for their own actions, as well as the actions of their offspring. We cannot exonerate ourselves from being culpable for how society ultimately turns out. The youths among us sometimes say, “That sounds like a you problem”, but not so at all! What is occurring in our land is an “everybody” problem and, therefore, each and every one of us must take ownership.
We each need to scan our households, take an honest look at our offspring, think of the future and ask ourselves, “What can I do to make a better Trinidad and Tobago?” There are simple but effective ways to start the change we want to see. In other words, treat our homes as a microcosm of our communities, our cities, our workplaces and, by extension, our country.
Let us not blame our politicians (and it does not matter the party), let us not blame our porous borders, let us not blame the police for not doing enough policing or the judiciary for not effectively adjudicating quickly enough on its mountain of cases.
Our young sons and daughters who are under our roof need to be policed at home, and you can never be too strict or too vigilant. Knowing about their friends, their whereabouts, their performance at school (and if they attend school for that matter) or what their ideals are is not you being intrusive, it’s you ensuring that they walk the straight and narrow.
Case in point, parents’ day at my children’s school always started with teachers complaining that the parents of deviant children never attended consultations with the teachers. I will admit, there’s a fine line between vigilance and stifling a child, but taking an interest in your children and gaining their trust will facilitate a better flow of information between parent and child.
Then there is your value system as a parent. What are you teaching your children about how they are to behave? How is your behaviour impacting theirs? What they see is what they will eventually do.
When you take adhering to simple rules and regulations for granted, and in full view of your charges, then the line that they should not cross moves closer and closer to deviancy until it is fully there. If you ever rode the shoulder on the highway, or casually conversed on your cellphone while driving or took something off of a supermarket shelf and did not pay, then your children will be like the apple and you are the apple tree.
Let us not absolve our collective selves from taking ownership of our collective problem. The “him” or “you” or “their” problem is actually an “our” problem. Securing borders? Helpful. Limiting access to firearms? Necessary. But when you don’t have access to guns and use a brick, a knife or chopper to inflict harm, remember, that level of violence probably began with a cup of water being flung at a teacher and escalated to a child slapping a parent, until we are where we are today.
You want to end crime? Look no further than your four walls and into the mirror hanging on any one of them. Start at home.