by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Observer column for MON 24 Aug 2015
Deputy Commissioner of Police Novelette Grant requested applause for saxophonist Malik Hamilton after his cooling performance in the warm Alfred Sangster Auditorium at UTECH last Wednesday. The keynote speaker at the UTECH ‘Fi Wi Jamaica’ Project launch, Ms. Grant said Jamaicans are becoming “too quick to criticize rather than to applaud”. She shared with us the anguished comments of a young man from St Catherine: “Whole a oonu a throw down stress pon man! Police, family … like we a prisoner!”
DCP Grant appealed, “We need to pay attention to how we communicate verbally and non-verbally. There is such a lack of kindness and positive feedback that our young men feel like giving up. We have to make the effort to give more praise.”
In order to bring our youth on board, Ms. Grant said, “We need to get them to tune in to WIFM – this means, ‘What’s In it For Me?’ In other words, we have to get our youth involved and engaged by planning events that they feel are empowering.” She cited research from PIOJ which showed that “crime, violence and the weakness of our justice system were undermining every aspect of society”, and warned that we are running the risk of being classified as a failed society. She said while we get the statistics on physical crimes, these do not capture the verbal and psychological abuse that is rampant.
She noted that the loving, safe environment that she enjoyed as a child growing up in Westmoreland was no longer a reality for many of our children. She says this was creating so much anger in them that even when they migrate, there are manifestations of this anti-social behaviour. She described the ‘pipeline’ along which children progress: “Home to Community to School to Society”, and said that it was too late to try to tackle the problem at the end of this journey.
“Where were you as a society at the beginning of this journey?” she asked. “Too many of us are absent. We need to get involved and become more engaged.” She noted that because of the absent father in households, our boys need positive role models as they are now linking masculinity with gunmanship. She urged more awareness of domestic violence and training in mediation.
She said that as the Police reach out to our youth, they are using the acronym IPAD as a guideline: assisting the youth to discover their Identity; helping them to identify their Purpose; developing a positive Attitude; shaping their Destiny. She appealed to UTECH to ensure that counselling is available to students as there are many accomplished students who have difficulties in the workplace because of attitudinal issues.