Reprinted from a previous issue

A friend called me about last week’s article to tell me that some people thought that I was too harsh on the mother of the badman who was killed some weeks ago. Like my friend who had the courage to defend me, I disagreed with that point of view.

The mother of the young man was not exactly a target, although it would have been quite difficult to deal with the problem of youth delinquency without reference to her.

What was of keener focus in my article was the badness among the young men of this generation. I know I am not alone in my concerns.

Minister of National Security Dwyer Astaphan is worried about the problem. He has been worried about this problem while he was Minister of Tourism. It was he who took the initiative to start Project Strong, to engage teenagers in positive activities and preempt their temptation to crime and badness.

Defense Force Commander Colonel Wallace is also concerned about the problem of teenage badness. That is why he joined the Defense Force. Ever since he was a teenager in Prickly Pear Alley, his mind was exercised by the prospect of black boys from the ghetto rising out of their depressive circumstances and reaching positions of responsibility, where they could make positive efforts to raise their generation to higher heights.

He currently uses the Defense Force as an agent of help upliftment and reform of young men and women of this generation.

The magistrates are concerned. For Magistrates Webbe and Jenkins, these crooked boys and girls are a headache, appearing before them with clock like regularity. The real headache is what to do with them to prevent them from becoming a menace to society and overflowing the jails.

The magistrates try their utmost, imposing community service on the youth, placing in the care of probation officers, everything short of sending them to jail.

The magistrates have sympathy with these mixed-up youth and want to steer them away from a criminal career. It hurts them when they see a youngster graduate from juvenile delinquency to jail.

Over the recent years a few of these youngsters have passed through the juvenile court where they were convicted of stealing and cutting-up and then through the Magistrates’ court where they were sentenced to jail, and then to the high court where they stood charged with serious crimes such as armed robbery and murder.

This is bewildering and frustrating, not only to the magistrates, the colonel and Dwyer Astaphan but to the rest of the law abiding community.

It is also frightening to the young mothers of our community who have their toddlers to raise and who are apprehensive of raising them in a criminal atmosphere.

Every year I go to watch the march at the Square during the pre-scholers month of activities. I see all those little children marching behind the music dressed in fancy outfits complete with colourful hats. One year Magistrate Mallalieu-Webbe was in the march holding her little girl by the hand, and I wondered how many of these innocent children will grow up, cast off their innocence during their teens and become rapists, prostitutes, bandits, murderers and a general bother to the law.

Whatever these babies grow to be, will of course depend on how their mothers raise them. They will not suddenly become bad at 13 when their mothers will say “I can’t go with them”.

What they become at 12 or 13 is what they were preparing to become since 2 or 3 and believe it or not, they do not prepare themselves, it is their mothers who groom them at 2 or 3 to become what they turn out to be at 12 or 13.

This is a serious thing and our young mothers must be held accountable for what their children become at the teen stage of their lives.

If their children become terrors to our society they must be held up as bad parents because they brought children into the world and shaped them into terrors.

If on the other hand their children become well adjusted teenagers, they will have the right to credit as good parents.

I salute all mothers who try to raise good children who will become a credit not only to them but the whole society.

I salute my friends and former students, Thenford and Angela Grey, who grew up in poor neighbourhoods as poor children. They grew up got married and raised four children.

They had plans for their children, three males and a female. They worked towards their plans, keeping their children on the narrow road of good behaviour, instilling in them good traditional values, seeing that they learnt their lessons in school.

They had planned that their four children would achieve what they did not get when they were teenagers- a college education. They made sacrifices for their children. Three of their children have already graduated from universities, the fourth is a second year student on his way.

Their mother Angela explains that she brought them up on the precept “Put God first”.

There are other parents, married and single, who have been successful in the upbringing of their children. These parents regarded their children as gifts from God and dedicated their lives to their upbrining. Though all parents might not plan for their children to go to college, all good parents have some goal to which they aspire for their off spring.

It is these goals that shape their children’s early years. It these goals are worthwhile, the end would be glorious and the community would be blessed. If the goals are bad or if there are no goals, the end will be disastrous and the community will bear the curse.