Letters & Opinion

Government of St. Lucia Hitting at the ‘Nerve Centre’ of Crime

Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E
By Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E

THE issue of Violence and Crime and Aggressive Behaviour in St. Lucia had been highlighted in local newspapers for several years. The articles focused on social and emotional situations which fuel violence and crime, and attempted to offer possible solutions to the problem.

From 2017, this writer and educator has written on the following topics: Man was Born Tabular Rasa: A Philosophy of Education in Relation to Violence and Crime in St. Lucia (Parts 1 to 5).

Indeed, the articles highlighted the fact that the philosopher Aristotle, theorised that “Man was born Tabular Rasa”, meaning that man was stimulus born without any prior knowledge or perception; he or she was born as a blank slate or tablet. Indeed, it is as he or she perceives of his or her environment and gains knowledge of the real world that a set of habitual behaviours, cognitions and emotional patterns evolve. By cognition I mean, the process of knowing or of learning; relating to the mind.

The series of articles went on to highlight that our schools are laden with angry children. Children with a lot of social problems and they do not know how to solve those problems. That those young people are involved in violence which include fights, bullying, the use of weapons and gang related violence. And behaviours are affecting our schools severely.

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In 2010, in an article in the Mirror of June 11, this writer published an article entitled: ‘Anger and Violence in St. Lucia.’ In the opening paragraph I wrote: “There has been an increase in violence and crime in St. Lucia going back approximately 15 years. The signs were there and had been detected. But the people who ought to show concern did not act swiftly and decisively to bring this matter under control. We seem to be a people of crisis; a nation that acts only in times of danger and great difficulty. And when it’s already too late.

Now, in an article published in THE VOICE Newspaper of May 18, 2019, entitled “Preventing Behaviour Problems: What works”, I made some suggestions as an educator, classroom teacher and Principal who has had the responsibility of training students for 42 years in our education system.

In that article, I offered some suggestions as follows: The unborn child can respond to a stimulus from the womb where it is growing and developing. As a result, it is suggested that early intervention should address prenatal or antenatal care.

Another suggestion was that government agencies should collaborate to allow for positive outcomes for the prevention of behavioural problems in students and children generally.

Another best-established principle of learning is to provide positive rewards to increase desirable behaviours.

Indeed, another very important principle is that, parents need to observe their children’s behaviour very closely. They should know who their friends are and whether those friends could provide positive incentives which would make a difference in preventing and reducing child and adolescent behaviour problems.

I can go on indefinitely. However, at this point I would like to state that many of our children and students have difficulty getting along with others at home, in class and in the communities. And it is important to understand the reasons and to try to help.

The Honourable Richard Frederick, the Parliamentary Representative for Central Castries and Minister of Local Government had proposed a peace and love initiative which he started a few years ago. I do not know what the outcome of that initiative was or whether it still continues. But that’s was an excellent approach.

Now in 2017 about the time that I was writing on Violence and Crime in St. Lucia, the Dr. Kenny Anthony government had actually started a Social Development Programme in St. Lucia. However, three months into the programme, which was supposed to have lasted for six months in the first instance, was stopped abruptly because the money which the CDB had allocated to that programme fizzled out. What a tragedy! Obviously, the programme had to be aborted or discontinued. And that has cost us dearly, insofar as crime and violence in St. Lucia are concerned.

Now the Government of Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre has made a valiant effort, or a concerted effort, if you prefer, at replicating the social development programme which he started with the Dr. Kenny Anthony Administration. A very detailed plan of action had been prepared and presented to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for funding.

Indeed, it is sad to say that the CDB has requested a report on the earlier financing of a similar programme during the former Dr. Kenny Anthony government reign before further financing could be provided.

Now this is common practice. When organization provides financing for a programme, they require a progress and final report on the project.

Philip J. Pierre now has the added burden of finding out what was done with the money. That is time that should be spent on moving the country forward.

As I end this article, I am hearing in the News 45 Major from Radio 100, that a 16-year-old male is in police custody for the stabbing death of a 24-year-old, in the same community. They could very well be neighbours.

The Prime minister is trying his very best to prevent or eliminate violence and crime in St. Lucia and to restore order in our beloved country.

I call the Prime Minister, the new Joshua who is leading his people to the Promised Land, where there is ‘milk and honey’. And St. Lucians are travelling courageously with him.

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