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Factors, equations, and solutions to reduce crime

By Vernon Khelawan,

The ages of our criminals today seem to be getting younger and younger. And the reasons being proffered by qualified and unqualified professionals vary quite a bit.

We hear all sorts of reasons for this but somehow, we seem either flummoxed or simply afraid to give the real reason. I have two.

In most cases the reason is poverty and all that goes with it and secondly, stress. I will explain.

Many parents ask, ‘Why does my once lovely child choose the wrong road – road of crime?’ They question themselves whether they were doing enough to keep their charges on the right track, whether they need the help of a child psychologist, priest, teacher, or other family members. This is turning out to be an onerous task for many.

The answer almost always comes back to poverty and residential locations.

The new name is ‘hot spots’. Geography exposes it graphically. And these are usually found in government projects or areas of squatters, of which there are many and most not exposed to wealth. Just look and you will see. These are the areas which give birth to criminality.

The blinds are drawn when our psychologists and similar professionals give their various reasons as to the many occurrences of rampant crime. Many theories have been put forward by these professionals over time about why so many children take the wrong ‘life’ road.

The blunt fact, which we seem to evade is the growing number of single parent homes – some come out of divorces; some from broken relationships; but the majority comes from the large numbers of promiscuous activities at the lower end of the age scale. It is a straight case of children making children.

A few years ago, fellow columnist Margaret Nakhid-Chatoor pointed to a lack of resources and personnel to address the needs of our children, a point with which I concur.

Since that time little or nothing has changed. I am not a psychologist, but common sense tells me that today’s children are forced to endure much more than children of two or three generations ago. The real culprit today, is stress, much STRESS.

Because of the society in which we live, parents push their children too hard, not necessarily by desire but by compulsion. First it is SEA, later, it is CSEC and CAPE. They must prevail in these examinations, otherwise they are considered not good enough. Children do not enjoy their childhood anymore. Playing is a rare commodity these days. With the devices, yes! Interaction has been placed on the back-burner. And the many, modern devices are not helping at all. But that’s not all.

This oftentimes gives rise to different stages of mental disorders. Rewind to a few generations back. The mentally ill children were few and far between and did not make up five per cent of the school population according to psychologists. A large part of this is because there was very little bullying, much less peer pressure and little or no flashing of wealth.

And it does not take rocket science to find out the reasons why. The increasing incidence of poverty; the high divorce rate; the burgeoning number of single parents and our criminal and corrupt environment are the main causes.

Another reason, as Dr Marlene Attzs, another colleague columnist recently wrote, “Poverty was not simply a monetary construct” and added, “The notion of poor people as those who are homeless or in shacks may not be the case. Someone who lives in poverty does not have a distinguished set of features. He/she does not have to be in a shack. It could be a 19-year-old who was undernourished, could not succeed in formal education and becomes a successful bandit.”

We cannot forget that children today are growing up without being allowed their space. This needs to be corrected before we lose another generation.

My equation therefore is simple: Poverty + stress = criminality.

Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash