Social reengineering – An alternate crime plan
BLOODSHED, VIOLENCE and abuse are among the top headlines that frequent our local newspapers from time to time. The prevalence of the crime monster that has taken up residency within the Jamaican society may be a derivative of several factors within the Jamaican socio-economic framework.
Criminal violence and domestic abuse signal our inability to settle disputes in a reasonable, civilised and decent manner. This has, for a long time, been at the heart of our discontent as a nation. We have taught generations of Jamaicans that physical abuse and violence are acceptable forms of response to agitation. Crime, therefore, is a socially oriented disease and as such, requires a socially oriented solution for effective change to be realised.
The issue of dispute resolution begins with the basic unit of society, which is the family. It is no secret that the habits of parents are often mirrored by their offsprings. These habits, over time, are passed down to generations and this is what some experts may term as a process of culturing. A child’s first place of learning to resolve disputes is from the home. How do mummy and daddy resolve disputes between them? How do parents resolve issues with their children? The answer to these questions should inform our understanding of who we are as a people. The fact that many of our homes are single-parent households makes the situation even more complex, as the example of one adult relating to another adult may not be available in the homes. But, on the face of it, what is available at home are translated into habits and patterns which then become character.
Dr Christopher Tufton, speaking in November 2018 at a public forum hosted to address the issue of domestic violence, said that around 15 per cent of the females between the ages of 15 and 49 experience domestic abuse by their male partners. When children become exposed to these levels and frequency of violence from within their homes, they develop with the notion that the only way to settle disputes is by violent means. This sad foundation becomes the base on which all future relationships are established.
Children grow up believing that the only way to be heard is to channel their disgust, anguish and anger through violence, chaos and anarchy. These habits get translated into the unnecessary killings that are carried out daily within our society.
Several factions that develop in communities across the island started with a simple disagreement at the bar, cookshop, or the football field over some mundane matter.
If we are to address the issue of the prevalence of crime and violence within our society, we can begin the process of socially oriented solutions with a focus on de-escalating tensions as the effective way to crime-fighting. We can begin within the schools, in the same way that emphasis is placed on hard skills such as the learning of the sciences, arts, English and mathematics, the same level of investment needs to be carried out in the development of soft skills among our youth.
Greater focus needs to be placed on teaching interpersonal communication to break the cycle of aggression to solving problems. The issue of dispute resolution should be the focus of urban renewal efforts, specially tailored towards inner-city communities. We would aim to create more peaceful environments, like parks, recreational spaces and places where adults can interact and share their current parenting methods, work challenges and social engagements. This would enable advice and guidance to be given in a peaceful and less confrontational environment, to persons who may be engaged in practices which are not conducive to raising a child with the right tools to solve the disputes. The channels that bind us together as a people are far greater than the avenues that divide us, and as such, the onus is on each and every one of us to treat each other with kindness, as a little respect goes a far away.