Jamaica Gleaner

Youth demand urgent fix to crime

Though satisfied with party, youngsters press Gov’t for more

- Tanesha Mundle/staff Reporter tanesha.mundle@gleanerjm.com

WHILE THE Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has wooed growing support from youthful electors, crime and violence top the list of issues they believe need to be urgently addressed by the ruling party.

Several young party faithful, including many first-timers who braved the heat and massive crowd that descended on the National Arena on Sunday, believe that the Andrew Holness-led administra­tion has been doing a good job running the country.

However, they expressed concern about pressing issues such as education, unemployme­nt, and crime and violence.

Murders have been a persistent problem for decades across successive political administra­tions, with the island ranking among the five bloodiest nations per capita.

Homicides range from 40-60 per 100,000 population annually. This year, Jamaica’s murders have increased by six per cent to 1,363 as at November 16.

Dei-rasi Freckleton of Clarendon Central, whose parish is one of seven in which states of emergency were imposed less than a week ago, believes that policymake­rs have been misguided in battling the scourge.

“The problem we have is that we don’t normally tackle crime, we tackle criminals. Jamaica normally has a plan for criminals because we need to stop crime before it happens,” said Freckleton, who started supporting the party in 2007 after the party’s policies caught his attention.

There should be an amalgamati­on of ideas between schools and teachers because the root of crime is in the home, he believes.

“Jamaica has it backwards. We want the Government to fix what the home should fix, and the teachers should fix what the home should fix, but the home should be the place where it starts first,” Freckleton reasoned.

Additional­ly, he said youngsters should prioritise not starting a family without the right socioecono­mic foundation.

“We have people who don’t know how to even handle themselves now to start having to care for children, and it’s like a conveyor belt that keeps going on. That’s why we have these perennial problems, burgeoning issues that we can’t control. It’s like a forest fire,” he told The Gleaner.

A female student from Clarendon, who was drawn to the party because it was perceived as more appealing to youth, also wants the administra­tion to put crime at the top of its agenda.

“Based on what I am seeing here in Jamaica, the majority of the youngsters are heading into crime and violence and not focusing on their education, so in exchange, we are having reduced numbers of persons who are coming out as profession­als while some are leaving the country because of the economic state,” the student, who asked not to be named, said.

Blake Brown, a recent graduate and financial investor from Kingston, underscore­d that the Government needs to address the issue forthright­ly.

He labelled the state of emergency as a crime-fighting strategy and called for the Government to seek consensus with the Opposition to have the measure continued.

At the same time, he said that youths need more jobs and economic opportunit­ies.

The economy has rebounded after being decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with consistent spurts of growth. The unemployme­nt, of 6.6 per cent, is at a near record low, while the poverty rate is at a 10-year low.

But with inflation trending well ahead of the 4.0-6.0 per cent bar, households are still feeling the pinch.

“Once persons are engaged economical­ly, they won’t have time to go and shoot and rob and kill people. They will be working, they will be earning,” the investor said.

Brown, however, believes that the JLP is on the right track.

“Unemployme­nt is at an all-time low right now, but it can be lower. Our economy is growing, but it can grow faster, so all I want to say to the Government is to just do more of what you are doing; just move faster and harder,” he said.

Turning to other issues, Renae, who travelled to the Arena to fellowship with other supporters and to hear the prime minister’s speech, said she is pleased that the party is united and is addressing social issues.

However, she said that greater focus should be paid to the rehabilita­tion of unattached youths.

“There are many persons of school age who are not in school, so we need to get them in a programme to ensure that they don’t gravitate towards crime.

“If gunmen are recruiting, we should be recruiting as well,” she said.

Renae is confident that the party will move the country forward.

“There is no other political party in Jamaica, and the Opposition is not doing its job. Why should we recognise it?” she said.

Freckleton, in the meantime, has proposed more broad-based legislatio­n that is effective and relevant.

“We keep on pitch-patching laws, but I think we have enough smart people to come together and decide that these laws haven’t been doing what they are supposed to do. Let us write new laws,” he said.

He has also called for more enforcemen­t of laws already on the books.

Freckleton is encouragin­g more young people to get interested in politics, regardless of party preference­s.

“We can’t leave the decision that is going to affect us directly up to people who don’t care about us,” he said.

 ?? IAN ALLEN/ PHOTOGRAPH­ER ?? Patricia Webb, the self-proclaimed “movie star from Westmorela­nd”, rings the JLP bell on the Independen­ce Park complex Sunday.
IAN ALLEN/ PHOTOGRAPH­ER Patricia Webb, the self-proclaimed “movie star from Westmorela­nd”, rings the JLP bell on the Independen­ce Park complex Sunday.

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