|Adriel Brathwaite, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs. (FP)|
Too many of this island’s young people are getting involved in criminal activity and are at risk of becoming victims of homicides and other violent crimes.
This is the view of Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite. His comments came last Saturday at the Installation Ceremony of the Kiwanis Club of Barbados South, at Southern Palms Hotel, Christ Church.
Emphasising that although the majority of our young people were positive and well intentioned, Mr. Brathwaite expressed concern about the behaviour of some who had turned to a life characterised by drug use, bullying, cigarette smoking, drinking and sexual activity from as early as seven years old. He noted that what was also worrisome was the fact that deviancy and delinquency had pervaded all schools, both at the primary and secondary levels.
"…it is my opinion that the fundamental reason [for such negative behaviour], is that many of this generation have turned away from God. Fewer young people are actively involved in church and church activities, as a result it leads to a lack of a moral compass driving their behaviour," he said.
"We are having now to persuade our young men to get up from wherever they are and to get the skills that will enable them to find?? employment," he admitted, placing some of the blame for this squarely on cultural penetration and peer pressure.
"Our young people are being fed a diet of violence, lewdness and vulgarity being witnessed all around them, in the form of entertainment through television…music and the electronic media. What I am concerned about is whether we as a society have lowered our standards, and have accepted these behaviours as the norm? This is something that we as a society need to closely examine," he suggested.
The Attorney General maintained that if this problem was to be rectified, then the society needed to reach out to the youth and get them involved in character building activities. Making reference to the contrasting attitude of girls versus boys, Mr. Brathwaite said that it was far easier to persuade females to return to classes than it was to get young males to do the same.
"It may not be cool for them to get up and go back to classes and they want you to find jobs [for them] and they don’t have the skills to move forward… The challenge is to get them to go back to school," he stated, pointing out that traditionally young people attended Sunday School and this gave them the spiritual values they needed to have?? "a moral compass".
The Attorney General indicated that research had shown that exposing young people to church increased their average life expectancy by eight years: significantly reduced a child’s use and risk of alcohol, tobacco and drugs and dramatically lowered the risk of suicide, while helping them to rebound from depression 70 times faster. He added that it also dramatically reduced the risk of young people committing crimes, improved their attitude at school and increased their school participation:
reduced the risk of rebelliousness, reduced the likelihood that they will binge drink at university: and generally provided them with a caring extended family.
Mr. Brathwaite called on all Barbadians to "slow down" and to stop trying to "keep up with the Joneses", but to return to the foundation "that showed us right from wrong".