You are here
A Captive Market for Criminal Intent
Most of you would agree that every year too many of our children fall through the cracks under the present education system and become the ones most “at-risk and vulnerable” to criminal intent. Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh is on record as having said that “the education system is failing our children” while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar recently said “child abuse and neglect offend the basic values of the State” and that “we have a responsibility to provide safe settings for at-risk children and facilitate permanent remedies and rehabilitation for children who have already suffered the tragedy and misfortune of neglect and abuse.” I contend that Government has a responsibility to create the social conditions to make sure at-risk and vulnerable children do not suffer the tragedy and misfortune of neglect and abuse and become lost causes rife for criminal intent. Therefore, if we can identify these at-risk children in their formative years and offer tangible support to deal with their social and psychological misfortunes and basic literacy needs, then, as we say, half the battle is won.
But how do we identify the most “at-risk and vulnerable” children in the first place? Minister of National Security John Sandy in his New Year’s Day address to the nation mentioned several community mobilisation strategies for young people “who access these programmes” while Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Rama-dharsingh recently spoke about a musical programme to include “youth in at-risk areas identified by the Minister of National Security”—seemingly no one seems to be able to identify the “at-risk.” Somebody somewhere must be responsible for identifying these children in order to provide earlier intervention through existing and, hopefully, a soon-to-be-expanded social services system. You see social assistance programmes cannot only be for those who want to access them but also for those who need assistance as determined by the authorities—like the poor and illiterate mother with 11 children and no means of support, like orphans who leave the institution at 18 with nowhere to go, and I could go on and on. I humbly suggest that the Ministry of the People and Social Development be responsible for setting up the mechanisms to provide a systematic and comprehensive compilation of data to track the progress of “at-risk” children from birth. This could be birth certificate database-driven with more information on the family unit and could fall under the soon-to-be-put-in-place Children’s Authority Act.
The data compiled would include an evaluation of and information on family circumstances to determine the extent of assistance needed and to ensure we treat with issues during a child’s formative years—to include nutritional requirements, learning deficiencies, child abuse and psy- chological problems, and, most importantly, whether or not the child should be removed from a high-risk family environment and placed in the hands of the State (big brother) to be nurtured, educated or trained, disciplined and of course loved.
As the PM said, we have a responsibility to provide safe settings for at-risk children and facilitate permanent remedies and rehabilitation. Parents would have a choice—either allow the State to assist with nurturing their uncared for and/or uncontrollable sons and daughters or run the risk of being held legally responsible for any criminal actions of their minors. Isn’t there such legislation already on our books? Well we should consider it. Yes, we have a major challenge on our hands, one that requires earlier detection and intervention to ensure that our “at-risk and vulnerable” children do not continue to be a captive market for criminal intent.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.