GUNS ON THE STREETS
Police are investigating the latest series of photos on social media, showing high-powered weapons in the hands of criminals.
Police say they cannot confirm whether they believe these photos were taken in Central Trinidad, as suggested by some.
The latest news about how a set of young gunmen invaded a wooden house in the serene Heights of Guanapo community and randomly murdered four of this little nation’s precious youths, – leaving five others wounded – has penetrated the Archilles heel of a people who are committed to constructive development but most vulnerable to stabs in the back from its own dearly beloved children.
What could be the cause of this devastating mayhem in a place where the government has bent backwards to ensure that its young people are not lacking in anything, whether facilities to promote their welfare and education or education and infrastructure which are said to meet the highest international standards?
How is it that in an environment where education is free to tertiary level – and books, free school meals, heavily subsidized housing and free health care are available to those who qualify- how is it that educators can be found tearing their hair out in exasperation at the senseless killings by youths who may only be looking for rank?
An article by Bobie-Lee Dixon in the Trinidad Guardian headed More attention to youth mental health needed dated September 22, 2023 revealed that “The United Nations has said that approximately one in five young people will suffer from mental illness”
Figures from the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (Unicef) said 1.2 billion of the world’s young people between 15 to 24, experience some sort of mental health condition. It has said most do not receive the adequate treatment required because of fear of discrimination and the negative stigma associated with people experiencing mental disturbance of the mind.
The theme of this year’s World Youth Day is Youth and Mental Health: Mental Health Matters.
Locally, one child rights advocate is making a similar call for the nation’s youth and she believes there needs to be better training for professional groups working with and for children.
Activist Hazel Thompson-Ahye, also a member of the Child Protection Task Force, told the T&T Guardian via e-mail that not much progress has been made in implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child since T&T submitted its first report to the UN Child Rights Committee 17 years ago.
She said then, the UN had noted with concern, that insufficient attention had been paid to the training of all professional groups working with and for children.
There is also concern that T&T’s administration of juvenile justice is not compatible with international conventions like the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Beijing Rules (which deal with the administration of juvenile justice), the Riyadh Guidelines (which deal with prevention of juvenile delinquency) and the Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty.
“This recommendation of the UN Child Rights Committee was repeated in 2006, yet we still have juvenile justice personnel who are not even aware of these international instruments, yet they are expected to perform their duties in accordance with them,” Thompson-Ahye said.
She added, some government ministries have even said there is no money for training, not realising they cannot afford to leave their personnel trained, as without training they run the risk of doing irreparable damage to children.
Epiphany Consultancy Services Ltd, an organisation to which Thompson-Ahye belongs is currently the only institution in T&T that offers the requisite training in child protection. The training takes the form of workshops facilitated by Dr Samuel Shafe, an expert in child and adolescent mental health and lecturer in child psychiatry at UWI.
A series of workshops for child protection professionals from T&T and the region began at the Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s on August 21 and will continue until August 29. The workshops will cover training in implementing international standards in youth justice, introduction to restorative practices; using circles effectively and training in facilitating restorative conferences.
Thompson-Ahye who studied youth justice as part of her masters in law degree has been training people who are involved in youth justice, around the Caribbean for the past 15 years. She pointed out the first workshop in T&T held earlier this year in March, was attended by heads of the Family Court of Belize and Cayman Islands, but no one from the Family Court in T&T was present.
She also said an important part of the workshops, will be the focus on child and adolescent mental development.
“This is important and there is a great need to train juvenile justice personnel in child and adolescent mental health in T&T because numerous studies show that mental health issues impact child development and children’s involvement in juvenile delinquency. Juvenile justice personnel must be taught that we need to keep our children safe from psychological trauma. Part of that is caring for youth in a trauma-informed way and not threatening to re-enact their trauma by moving them if they don’t behave,” said Thompson-Ayhe.
“We need to emphasise the need to assess children for the risk factors that are the variables associated with the increased likelihood that they will continue with delinquent behaviour,” she added.
The mesmerizing question must be: What satisfaction can people find in killing other people?
According to one poster in Quora:
“People murder because they feel this power over someone else. They feel like now they can control someone. It also feels good to get away with something you typically can’t get away with, or you’d get in big trouble. (Even if it’s just for the tiniest amount of time.)
An example of this is when a teacher sends you downstairs to the cafeteria, because she’s caught you in the upstairs hallways, which no students are suppose to be at. But instead, you find a different path up the upstairs hallway, to avoid the teachers, and hide in the bathrooms with your friends. Sounds specific doesn’t it? Yea, I do that all the time!
It just feels amazing to know you just cheated your way back up those steps, and just knowing the teachers think you are downstairs being a good little girl is the best part!
That’s probably how a murderer thinks! It brings pleasure to know you cheated and got your way.
I can also relate to the controlling part, its kinda dark though”.
This young person inadvertently gives some insight into the context in which thee crime committed when he (she) states:
“In my younger years I was faced with abuse, emotional and once in a while physical. Both my fathers where quite cruel to me. So fast forward a few more years, I wasn’t in a depress state anymore. But for those many years I was powerless, and afraid.
We then recently gotten a dog. A mutt. I love him so much! But he would chew up a lot of things, even after a year passed (after his puppy days) he would chew things up.
He then chewed up my favorite shoes. I was fuckin’ pissed. I took him in my room and hit him on the butt with the shoe. But then something kicked in within me, I started to hit him more and more, on the face as well. I was kicking him too. I know this is going to sound sick, and probably a little psychopathic, but, I enjoyed the power. I enjoyed being more powerful for once, and being the one to inflict the suffering and pain that I was inflicted on in my younger years. I enjoyed it”.
In Trinidad and Tobago – as in most other countries – the government has been moving steadfastly to find solutions to this dreadful situation.
According to Thompson-Ahye, the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, has pledged to act quickly on the development of child assessment centres so that more can be done to start saving the nation’s children.
“The Child Protection Task Force in conjunction with the Children’s Authority, have been lobbying for this for some time now. Hopefully we may not have to wait that long again before this materializes as the Government has pledged to bring assessment centres on stream. This will certainly be a light at the end of the tunnel. It may be the most important initiative of the Kamla Persad-Bissessar government (2010-2015) when its history is written, as it will influence the way we treat with children in the future and will be laying the groundwork for a healthier, happier and ultimately, safer society.”
The incumbent People’s National Movement (PNM) regime led by Prime Dr Keith Rowley has also been consistent in its drive to support our nation’s youth in their movements forward and upward.
In this regard, let u hope that, as the Black Stalin sang:
AMBASSADOR CANDACE BOND’S COURTESY CALL TO PRIME MINISTER DR. ROWLEY
Better Days Coming!
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