Dealing with crime in the community

Members of the Jamaica Defence Force at a crime scene in Rose Heights, St James, where five persons were shot, two fatally.

Dr Karelle Hytlon, PhD Counselling Psychologist

Dear Counsellor:
I LIVE in a community that is experiencing a crime wave that we have not seen before. I am 16 years old, and I have two younger sisters, 12 and nine. I have seen where girls a little older than my sisters have been used by ‘bad men’ in my community. Counsellor, I love my sisters, and I swear that if anyone thinks that he is going to abuse my sisters, he is wrong. I am willing to go to whatever lengths to protect them. I do not believe that the police can help because this thing has been going on for the longest time, and nothing is happening. I am a student at a non-traditional high school, and I find it very difficult these days to study and do well. I do not want to join a gang. I do not want to see my sisters hurt. What can you do to help?
– G.B.

Dear G.B.,
I empathise with you and your presented issue. Crime in any community usually has a negative impact on the daily functions of families, especially the young and vulnerable. I hear where you say that there has been an increase in crime in your community, and this is unfortunate. I also hear that you have little faith in the authorities on the matter of crime prevention and community support. Persons are afraid for their lives and maintain a silence that, in turn, gives the ‘bad man’ a safe place to operate.

As a community, everyone should have freedom to state his or her views and report the perpetrators of crime so that order can be restored. The concern that you have shared about your sisters is also an unfortunate reality. Might I suggest that you and your family relocate? That is an option available to you and your family. Now, relocating may appear on the surface as ‘running away’. This is just one option to remove yourselves from the immediate threat. I might also suggest that you speak to your local political and pastoral representatives on the matter. I understand where you said that you would go to any lengths to protect your sisters. Would this include having a community meeting with other youths like yourself, the police, and other key community stakeholders, to include the ‘bad men’, so that a discussion and a plan for reducing crime and violence and improving community development can be arrived at?

I can see where this has begun to affect your ability to function in school. Get the support from your guidance counsellor and your teachers. I appreciate that you do not want to get involved in a gang, and I surely hope that you will not. It is very difficult to be different in this world, but I must encourage you to keep the faith and embrace courage that you will accomplish all that you were purposed to do for yourself and your community.

I sincerely hope that your community will realise the importance of working through issues and coming together for the good of all involved and that you and all the families living there will be able to be the best citizens possible, free from crime and violence and engaging in productive community activities.

Dr Karelle Hytlon, PhD Counselling Psychologist

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