Cognizant of the devastating effects that the escalating wave of crime is having on the citizenry, government is bent on utilizing a holistic approach to address this issue.
Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Education Shawn Edward, reiterated that everyone should join in the ‘fight against crime’, which at this juncture needs to be implemented from the school level.
He said from a security stand-point, the administration is “deeply concerned” about this worrisome matter that currently confronts the country.
“Every life that is lost is one too many and the government will spare no effort to ensure that we deploy all the resources at our disposal to fighting crime and criminality in this country,” Edward told reporters at a media briefing, Monday.
At this crucial juncture in the socio-economic development of the country, the minister contended that “crime is not an issue to be politicized” because it is an issue that affects everyone in society.
“In order for us to get to the bottom of the situation …we need all hands on deck and it is not just the Government of Saint Lucia that must come forward and put forward all the solutions to the current situation as it relates to criminality in this country,” he added.
The minister noted that concerned groups, including the opposition parties, civil society, organizations, parents and family must all play a role. Most importantly too, he said, “parents have a role in terms of how they orient their children, and that’s the only way we will have long-term and durable solutions to fighting crime.”
Added Edward: “Crime is a social construct, and for us as a government we’ve appreciated and understood that in the fight against crime it takes a lot more than the deployment of law enforcement personnel. And that is why …we have attempted to roll out social programmes that will help the situation as it obtains in communities, particularly, those communities where there tend to be a prevalence of criminal activity.”
While citing the deployment of joint forces in the fight, he said, “It has to be a multi-pronged approach from here”, with involvement from religious denominations, schools and the family.
“And that is why, we are currently in the budget ensuring that the amount we had allocated for social programs in the past have been increased,” said Edward.
Alluding to the civic duties of persons within the society, the minister underlined the importance of “social interventions” and the impact that it can have on the youth. “It is important that those interventions are made early in the lives of the children so that they can begin to denounce wrong at a very early age,” he noted. “As simple a concept as it is, children have to be able to discern right from wrong. And if, as adults we do not admonish children for the wrong that they do, they feel conformable violating the guidelines that would be put in place for them in the home and even at school.”
Citing the role of the education department as a conduit in the overall ‘scheme of things’, Edward said, in addressing students at school, he regularly cautions them that if “you break the school rule today and you have to suffer the consequences based on what form of punishment that the principal or the dean of discipline (may) deem necessary. When you graduate from Form V and you are in society and you break the rules of society, it will no longer be the principal, but it will be the magistrate and the judge, and the police officers that you have to face”.
Edward asserted: “So, if at a very early age, at the level of the pre-school, the infant and primary schools we are able to teach them right from wrong and get them to understand that there is merit in conformity, especially in a social setting, we would be doing a lot for our country in terms of creating a mindset that would cause these children to grow up and be responsible citizens.”