(Editor’s note: The Young Leaders group at Lynn Jeffers School on Nevis is competing with schools across the region to meet the requirements of this year’s project, “Bridging The Gap.” Last year, the school finished in second place in this contest, which is sponsored by RBTT Bank. Students involved in this project are conducting interviews to discuss issues that have an impact on a wide variety of people. The Observer is publishing excerpts from their work today and in the coming weeks. The Observer is not requiring the use of last names in this instance.)

Many families in Nevis are led by single parents and mostly women. Absentee or negligent fathers are the cause of many problems in the community.  Lyn Jeffers Young Leaders here explore peoples’ feelings on this topic.

Do you think the neglect by a parent encourages gang violence? What are the main reasons gangs are violent? Do you think your father plays a major role in the family? If your father abused you and you have no where to go except join a gang would you? Why?

P.B.-female, 47 – Thinks her parents neglected her as a child, she didn’t feel like they were in a group. Gangs are a fall back for humans.

A.B.-female, 16 – Thinks her parents partly neglected her, the child maybe angry and think a gang is a good way to channel their anger.

B.A.-male, 19- thinks the main reason groups are violent is because they try to be cool and show their dominance. A father’s attention would help keep kids doing other things and not get involved in gangs.

M.D.-female, 32- Gangs generally, tend to be violent because they feel that this is the only way they can gain respect from peers. Gangs are also influenced by negative images in the media. Mothers can’t do the job all by themselves – fathers need to be there too.

C.K. – male, 36- In some cases, however, if a child has positive influence from another adult or from peers it does not always have to be the case.

R.S. – female, 23 – Yes, fathers play a major role in a household. A father should be a stabling influence for the children. He should also be a role model for the children especially the boys.

N.B. – female, 24- I have never been in this situation. My mother and father are very loving and we still do lots of things together. I would never have thought to join a gang.