Dear Editor:

Our community is facing a crisis.  Hardly a week passes that we are not reminded of the growing violence perpetuated by misguided young men of our community.  On Thursday last, Nevisian parents buried yet another young man – lost to violence.  It has become commonplace for parents to stand at graveside and mourn the loss of a child they brought into this world.  This is not a natural state.

Violence in our community has a significant impact well beyond the perpetrators and the victims.  There are those that preach that this violence must come to an end as it will result in a loss of tourism and thus have an economic impact on our island.  Although economics is important, I suggest it is secondary when one views the social impact on the community.  Take for instance the cowardly shooting that recently took place in Nevis: one mother’s son is dead, and two other mothers may be seeing their sons off to the gallows.   In the case of this sole death, a son has been lost, a father has been lost, an uncle has been lost, a cousin has been lost, a nephew has been lost, a friend has been lost.  The impact of this death on a community is like a stone dropping in a pond, the ripples continue in all directions affecting the entire pond.  Even those who did not know the people involved in this tragedy are affected, as violence in a community affects everyone.  I dare say that there is no one in our community that can say that their lives have not been impacted in some way, shape or form. How many people now lock their doors at night for fear of two-legged predators?

As parents and members of the community, what can we do to avoid having to stand at a grave side and watch our children be placed into the ground?  The answer is simple – get involved!  Much of the violence that we are facing is not being perpetuated by a secret society unknown to the community.  This is a situation where the perpetuators of this violence advertise their presence.  They boast to the community as to who they are, they wear colours and commonly greet each other with hand signals.  They are gangs!! These gangs of youth that you see, calling themselves Bloods, Crips, Eastside, Westside & BK, are not harmless, youthful friends drawn together by a love for cricket. They are vicious predators who prey on the community and all those within.  They can be compared to a cancer, and allowed to grow unchecked they will destroy and kill a healthy body.

As parents and members of the community we have to become knowledgeable about these gangs. Learn to identify their markings and in particular recognize signs in our children that they may be falling under their influence.  As a simple example: while walking around the Charlestown Secondary School (CSS) the other day, I noticed a lot of graffiti, of particular notice was the marking “BK”.  This is not a child placing his initials on a wall, these initials stand for “Blood Killers”.  The child who placed these marking on the wall is advertising his hatred for a rival gang and his desire to kill its members. As a parent and as a member of a community, we must learn to recognize these things and be prepared to confront them or be prepared to stand at the graveside.

We have to talk to our children about gangs in the same way we talk to them about other issues of life where a parent is called on to provide guidance.  Unfortunately, modern entertainment has a tendency to romanticize gangs and violence and our children are susceptible; they need our guidance, they need our input to counter the bombardment of messages they receive daily from the media.  We need to get educated as to what is really going on in the lives of the youth of our community.  We need to form a partnership within the community to address this issue, ask our police force to provide an officer to speak to church groups and community groups to educate on the identification of gangs and how to protect your children.  Take this information, use it for the betterment of your family and your community.  I, for one, am tired of reading about another mother grieving over the loss of her child.

THE TIME FOR ACTION IS NOW!!!!

Submitted by Daniel MacMullin on behalf of the Nevis Community Anti-Crime Initiative.