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Aug 14, 2008

Breakdown in family structure is one cause for rising crime

Story PictureCRIME: its roots and causes are on everyone’s minds. It is ripping apart families, and its path, destroying the fabric of society. Tonight, Jose Sanchez takes a comprehensive look at this ever growing threat.

Canon LeRoy Flowers, Anglican Diocese
“From a Christian perspective, we cannot deny the fact that crime began even in heaven and therefore that is a struggle that we have got to contend with.”

And we must contend with crime every day. July was an active month for violent crime and Julio Valdez, recently appointed as head of C.I.B., confirmed this.

Julio Valdez, O.C., CIB
“Since my arrival here, yes we do have had some incidents occurring. We have had a spat of shootings occurring within the city for this month. You want a detail of them, yes. For the month of July, up to now, we had four murders, four persons who were shot. Plus we had some shootings, some random shootings, which in other persons injured during the shootings.”

Jose Sanchez
“So just four murders and …”

Julio Valdez
“Four murders we had and a total of nine shootings we had, other nine shootings for the month of July which occurred during the whole month.”

Jose Sanchez
“And that’s for Belize City?”

Julio Valdez
“Yes, just for Belize City.”

Jose Sanchez
“There is a lot happening elsewhere around the country. What is being done?”

Julio Valdez
“Presently what is being done now is that we are trying to work on more crime prevention programmes, as we mentioned yesterday, education. Have the working along with the CYDP, Mr. Broaster who is working on that issue. They represent preventative patrols, intense preventative patrols in the city. We are using members from the Criminal Investigation Branch, the C.I.U., the Special Branch, the Patrol Unit, the Special Patrol Unit. So we are combining all our forces and see if we can control the incidents occurring in the city.”

Jose Sanchez
“Where are these patrols being made?”

Julio Valdez
“It’s concentrated in the whole entire Belize, the city itself but we are mostly focusing on mostly Belize in the hot spots where we believe that the incidents are occurring. We’d say this area we believe more incidents occur so we might concentrate more into that area and we need to control that area and so. In general we are targeting the whole city itself.”

Since speaking to Valdez mid-month, the final totals were six murders for Belize City and nineteen murders in July for the country.

Edward Broaster, Director, C.Y.D.P.
“I think that in a whole, people have become intolerant of each other. There is this breakdown of family values as well as parenting guidance in the homes and stuff like that. We have a lot of single mothers and fathers as well. And we have a lot of young persons who are just basically left on their own to fend for themselves.”

Supa G., Musician
“One of the reasons is that it’s everybody fi themselves. Dat dah how I look at it. If I think you di come fi tek weh what I have or if I think I noh di get weh I deserve then people wah retaliate. And many times people think that the best way to solve a problem or get what they want dah through violence.”

While he believes that lawmen need additional support, Father Flowers believes that the police department’s report card is too much in the red.

Canon LeRoy Flowers
“I think that our police has to be better equipped; better educated, and they need to be better prepared to deal with the criminals in the street. I don’t think that our police department is at that level yet. I think there is just too much cases that are thrown out because of police inefficiency. I believe that in such a situation that people should be fired. In any other business people those people lose their jobs man. Why is it that we continue to allow the police department to continue to bring cases? And they boast when they arrest somebody. But to me the arrest is nonsense. It is the conviction rate.”

But one programme that the police have high hopes in is the Conscious Youth Development Program. It is being run by veteran officer Edward Broaster who says that sporting and outdoor programmes helps troubled youths to get along.

Edward Broaster, Director, CYDP
“The programmes and the outdoor challenge that we run have been a tremendous success in that we have young persons who have conflict with each other go out on these camp whereby they have to depend on each other in order to basically survive in the environments in these areas and work together and that forges a cohesion among these young persons as well as team building spirit.”

Canon LeRoy Flowers
“Children are growing up without cared direction and discipline because this isn’t important no matter what anybody says. They can talk about all the rights. I tell my children, eight of them, that the only rights they have in this house are the ones I give them. But quite honestly I think that we need to return to some basics. That is the family structure. Now the family structure, it is easy to say that, but because of the reality in which we live where our sons and daughters generally have no sense of value, no sense of purpose. They have no role models. It is difficult.”

Edward Broaster
“Those areas are in the Mayflower, Back-a-town and the St. Martins area. Those are the three areas of concern that we are focusing on at this time that are creating the problem and difficulty that we are faced with right now.”

That charge that family structure must be solidified is echoed not only by the clergy and the police but also by prison officials such as C.E.O. of Kolbe Foundation, Meliton Auil.

Meliton Auil Jr., Acting C.E.O., Kolbe
“Well in each neighborhood, hopefully there is a church. If you call what you call a hotspot the problem is greater but any problem can be solved as long as there is a will to do it. And you recognise what is needed to solve that problem and it all starts with God. In all honesty it starts with God because that’s where our values come from. We need to teach our parents what it means to be a good Christian parent. It’s not just a matter of looking out for my survival skills but I have to teach values how to be strong, how to pray, how to have discipline, how to respect others.”

A man who has been intimate with gun violence is Raymond Gentle. He has survived two attempts on his life. He recently handed over a fragment grenade to the police. His perspective is pertinent.

Raymond “Killa” Gentle
“One of my own friend deh gainst me without I even know. When I gone tek wah lee run 2002. I left Kraal Road pan Bike and pan my way back inna Kraal Road one ah my own friend dodge me fi kill me. And dah so I get shot 2002.”

Jose Sanchez
“And four years later, 2006?”

Raymond Gentle
“Same thing 2006. I feel like dah wah continuation from the 2002 shooting because dah wah thing weh mi di prolong and den I end up di be wah witness fi one ah my friend weh mi get shot down right side ah me. Three months time dah nothing. Yoh go dah prison, think about your lee offence weh yoh commit and come dah prison fah and if dah somebody weh into crime dehn wah find wah better way fi go and commit wah offence without get caught fi come back and do three months. So I feel like when dehn bring down pressure pan di youths like dat and send dehn dah jail dat wah develop wah more instinct inna dehn criminal mind like when dehn come out di crime rate deh pan wah different level. That fall pan di pressure weh di system bring down pan di youths dehn.”

Supa G
“I think it starts from the home. I think yoh need fi teach yoh kids dah noh everything weh yoh want yoh could get.”

Canon LeRoy Flowers
“In any home, if there are not rules and regulations, if there is no discipline then, there is going to be total chaos. And that is what we are seeing in our society. There is a total breakdown of morals and lack of indiscipline. We are rearing a set of undisciplined children. It’s not their fault. We are the ones who’ve got to have a responsibility to teach our children and to say that is not acceptable.”

To test the theory that the breakdown of the family unit is the core cause of youths gone astray I looked for answers behind prison walls. Fredrick Fuller is a repeat offender as well as a three years and two month resident of the Kolbe Foundation. Freddy was raised by a loving grandmother, and when she died, the love was gone and he turned to the streets. Freddy is in a twelve step recovery programme and he shared his testimonial.

Fredrick Fuller, Inmate, Ashcroft Rehabilitation Center, Kolbe Foundation
“I was a member of the Crip gang. Basically, I started to rob, steal. When I was sixteen and a half I turned to marijuana and crack cocaine. Well got introduced to marijuana and crack cocaine and my life really started to spiral out of control.”

Jose Sanchez
“Freddy, do you think not having a family was part of the problem?”

Frederick Fuller
“Well, yes because up to when I came to this programme I was holding a serious resentment against my father and my mother because I think they were the ones that should have been teaching me the things I needed to learn when I was young. Not having them really tore me apart because although I had my grandmother, I didn’t have that father figure and I didn’t knew my mother because she left me from when I was one year and three months. I didn’t know my mother and all this time growing up I wanted to meet my mother and didn’t get to meet her and it really made me mad. And in a way that’s one of the reasons I really turned to the streets because I was trying to find that father figure and I couldn’t find it.”

The prison realized that it also has a role to play to reduce the recidivism rate, so it developed a programme to help those who want to help themselves.

Jesus Juan Vega, Dir., Ashcroft Rehabilitation Center, Kolbe Foundation
“So here at the Ashcroft rehabilitation we enable these individuals to look at themselves and to look at their self esteem. Yes, they have committed a crime but yes, they have to return to society. And here what we do, we enable them with the tools so when they are reintegrated back into society they can be productive citizens and respectful and loving fathers to their families because as you know the criminal himself when he commits a crime it does not only affects him but it’s a rippling effect; it affects the family too and those young ones.”

After their first conviction, many youths end up in the hands of Colive Casimiro who believes that they can still become productive citizens.

Jose Sanchez
“So you think there is hope for these youths?”

Colive Casimiro, Officer, Wagner’s Youth Facility-Kolbe
“Of course there is a lot of hope for these guys. Despite the fact that they all come from different backgrounds and they have committed a crime, we try our best to help them grow and I have seen differences in their lives. I have been here for quite some times and we have some of the guys who are present with us who are teachers. So I know that it is working and it will continue to work.”

Morals and values have sickened and deteriorated from the family structure. The violence in the city streets, whether stabbing or shooting, is the main symptom of the decay of the first social group that we belong, the family. As testament to the loss of respect for life, we leave you with the names of the sixty-nine who have been killed so far for 2008. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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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