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Feb 28, 2002

Children look for answers to crime

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As part of Children’s Week, the nation’s media houses were asked to bring young people into the newsroom and show them the ins and outs of journalism and broadcasting. At News 5, we had the privilege of hosting Kayla Arnold, a twelve-year-old standard five student at St. John Vianney in Belize City. Earlier this week Kayla teamed up with reporter Jacqueline Woods and cameraman Brent Toombs to take a look at the problem of crime–as seen through the eyes of our children.

Kayla Arnold, Reporting

“The subject of crime has been the main topic of conversation in Belize. We’ve all heard adults speak about how crime affects them and what should be done to address the problem. But crime not only affects the lives of grownups, it has also been a very scary time for children.”

Yanique Morgan, 9 Years Old

“Once we used to be able to walk around in the street anytime in the night, don’t have to worry about any bullets or any stabbing, don’t have to worry that your house is on fire. But now you have to worry about every little thing.”

Darwin Westby, 12 years old

“The killing rate is just getting higher and higher and the government can’t do nothing about it.”

Frankie Malic, 9 years old

“I live right on the back street and a lot of gunshots always happen mostly every night, so we have to go in soon.”

That fear has made us afraid to do many of the things we enjoy. Children no longer feel safe playing with their friends, walking on the streets or buying in the shops. This week I spent some time talking with kids about crime.

Iman Humes, 9 years old

“When I was walking on the street I went to buy for my mother and someone came to me and said hello and I ran and I screamed and I went to someone and told them what happened.”

Kayla Arnold

“Did the person try to grab you?”

Iman Humes

“Yes.”

Nine-year-old Iman Humes says she did not go to the store for weeks and is still frightened to walk on the streets.

Kayla Arnold

“From 1998 to 2000, some of the worst acts of criminal violence in Belizean history were committed when five primary school students were brutally murdered.”

The children, Sherilee Nicholas, Jay Blades, Jackie Malic, Erica Wills and Noemi Hernandez were first kidnapped and then killed. It was a horrible time for young girls, and an especially sad time for those students who had lost a friend and a classmate.

Natisha Stamp, Friend of Jay Blades

“I felt bad because we were very close, we use to play a lot. And when I found out that she was dead, I felt bad, I felt scared because I thought that what if one day I was walking someone could come up to me and grab me and something like that.”

Today, the killer or killers have still not been found. Sadly, in the past year, our lives continue to be threatened.

Kayla Arnold

“In January, 2001, sixteen month old Claymar Monsanto and eleven year old Francis Maximo were shot dead during an attempted hit on the baby’s father.”

And In the past three months, fourteen people have been murdered. Although none have been children, it does not make the violence any less sad. Aside from taking lives, crime is also killing the dreams and aspirations of our youth.

Jalen Usher, 10 years old

“My teacher always talks about crime. She says, do not do crime it is not a very good thing. So I don’t want to be a crime person, I want to be a businessman and a doctor. So I hope the people who are on the streets doing crime, stop.”

To prevent crime in schools and make children feel safer the police have been actively visiting schools to speak with boys and girls. At Grace Primary School, I met Police Constable Mark Tucker. P.C. Tucker says the Zone Beat Liaison officers offer children tips on how to protect themselves from crime.

P.C Mark Tucker, Zone Beat Liaison Officer

“If we see that you are in the area where a crime more than likely will occur, we try to tell them walk the other away because we as police officers will not always be there. But we try to assist them in anyway possible.”

Kayla Arnold

“No matter how young we are, we too have our own ideas on crime and believe the following suggestions just might help solve the problem.”

Sasha Garnett, 9 years old

“We should stop going out on the streets late, we should have a grown up with us when we are walking and just be safe.”

Jalen Usher

“The only reason they are killing each other is because they don’t have jobs. They have to kill to get their things like money and food. So if you get more jobs, they will get their money and won’t kill that much.”

Jahmel Hemsley, 12 years old

“We don’t have to hang, but I think the police should be going around Belize and noticing everything.”

Giovannia Brown, 12 years old

“I think we can prevent crime by bringing back the hanging or we can give the person who did the crime longer sentence in jail.”

Bernard Young, 10 years old

“I think we should stop showing the violence on TV and so. Stop the violence, stop selling drugs cause they get it from drugs.”

Kayla Arnold

“By this time, you may have realised that solutions to the crime problem are not easy. Until adults can get things under control, the best we can do is avoid dangerous situations and stay on the right side of the law. Kayla Arnold, Reporting for News 5.”

Kayla Arnold is also the co-host of the weekly radio show on Love FM called Kid-o-rama. The media programme during Children’s Week was an initiative of the National Committee for Families and Children.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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