Lack of ethics, get-rich-quick mentality at root of St James crimes

Jamaica Gleaner - - WESTERN FOCUS - Christo­pher Thomas Gleaner Writer

– pas­tors

PAS­TOR KNOL­LIS King, founder of the Rose Heights Covenant of Peace, has at­trib­uted the ris­ing crime rate in St James par­tially to the fact that many young peo­ple in the par­ish are pur­su­ing a get-rich-quick life­style in­stead of seek­ing hon­est em­ploy­ment.

“I do not see a lot of our young peo­ple, right now, think­ing about get­ting a job or ed­u­ca­tion ... . They want a mil­lion dol­lars by next morn­ing. They say, ‘I don’t want to pass any sub­jects’, or ‘I know per­sons who have a de­gree and they are not work­ing’,” said King while ad­dress­ing a re­cent Gleaner Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum on crime in Mon­tego Bay.

“A child as early as four or five years old is us­ing some kinds of [lewd] lan­guage, and at 10 years old, they drink, smoke, and they want a phone and they scam. And when a man makes a money, what does he want next? He wants a gun,” King added. “There was a time when a young man would want to be a teacher, a po­lice­man, or a lawyer; now he wants to be the don, to be the ‘shotta’.”

His col­league, Reverend Ever­ton Jack­son, head of the Peace Man­age­ment Ini­tia­tive (PMI) in St James, is adamant that ar­rest­ing the cur­rent crime wave in the par­ish, where 200 mur­ders have been recorded since Jan­uary, must be­gin with the fos­ter­ing of good ethics and val­ues in chil­dren from an early age.


“We can­not dis­miss the im­por­tance of the en­vi­ron­ment within which chil­dren are nur­tured and grown, in­clud­ing the home. That is con­sid­ered to be the pri­mary agent of so­cial­i­sa­tion, and also the school and the church,” Jack­son said.

Within the last few weeks, alarm has been raised by var­i­ous stake­hold­ers about the re­cent spike in mur­ders in St James, in­clud­ing 15 mur­ders com­mit­ted over a one­week pe­riod within Mon­tego Bay and its en­vi­rons. The mur­der rate has re­sulted in sev­eral per­sons call­ing for the im­po­si­tion of a state of emer­gency to cur­tail the ram­pant shoot­ings.

Last year, the over­all mur­der tally for St James stood at 212.

Jack­son warned that chil­dren who are ex­posed to a crim­i­nal or vi­o­lent en­vi­ron­ment will come to see such be­hav­iour as nor­mal.

“When chil­dren are ex­posed to a cli­mate that is de­fined by vi­o­lence, or de­fined by indis­ci­pline, then it is true to say that there is the pos­si­bil­ity that they will seek to think of those seem­ingly de­viant be­hav­iours to be nor­ma­tive. The onus is on the so­ci­ety to en­sure that our chil­dren are brought up within the en­vi­ron­ment that is con­ducive for their healthy and holis­tic foun­da­tion,” he said.

The PMI head added: “I think we have to speak a lit­tle stronger as it re­lates to get­ting back ethics in our op­er­a­tions. We have lost ethics in the name of prac­ti­cal ex­pe­di­ency, [but] we can­not build a so­ci­ety like that. How can we op­er­ate in a world with­out ethics and ex­pect to have a world that is healthy holis­ti­cally? We have to get back to a point where ethics mat­ters.”

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