Dr. Hilary Brown also spoke about the prevalence of crime throughout the Caribbean Region. She mentioned that the exponential growth in crime is a recent development.
DR HILARY BROWN
“The crime issue as we know is one that we are very concerned about and which seems to be getting worse before it is getting better. In fact CARICOM when it started in 1973 the pillars of the community were economic development, social development and foreign community relations but we have since then added another pillar of cooperation and security recognizing that there are so many challenges and the way in which we need to work together that is to share intelligence and support each other to address the scourge of crime. I think all of us have to be particularly concerned about the rate of youth related crime, of incarceration of our young people and certainly I know that it’s an issue here in Belize but it’s an issue in most of our member states and even those smaller countries in the eastern Caribbean that never used to have a problem have found that crime is showing its head in their communities as well. So gone are the days we could leave our doors open and up to recently many of the countries in the Eastern Caribbean you could leave your house open, you could leave your keys in your car and if you lose your keys somebody would take it to the radio station and you could go there and pick it up. This was happening up until recently and I think all of us are being affected by this and this is why we have a youth development goal related to crime and security.”
She spoke about the potential reasons that have caused the shift in crime development.
DR HILARY BROWN
“There are range of issues which would begin with the family and with I think the fact that many of us have the oldest among us, in terms of countries, have been independent at least 50 to 54 years and I think there was an expectation with independence that there would be greater redistribution of wealth and opportunity and I think that the fact that you are seeing a greater difference between those who have and those who don’t have is partly contributing to the problem; the high levels of youth unemployment in the region. Obviously if young people don’t have a way of addressing their needs crime becomes an option and they are far more easily recruited by gangs and so on. So as we know crime is a very complex issue which has both economic and social roots.”
We also had the opportunity to speak with Jamaica’s Senior Director of Youth and Adolescent Policy Division in the Ministry of Youth, Michelle Smallbartly, she spoke about the issue of crime affecting the youth community of Jamaica and how the country is dealing with it.
“Specific to issues that we have been experiencing is really crime and violence. I think we are making strides in terms of how we are addressing these things. In terms of crime and violence there is a specific program that has to do with community renewal and it speaks specifically to our youth groups as well as it spreads to the wider community but we have been working with our young people so that they are better able to equip themselves because there is a link between education, poverty and crime and so we have been working with these groups so that they can advance themselves, become better educated so that we can minimize crime and violence in the community that will literally spread throughout our country and improve the conditions.”