Raising children properly for the greater good of all

Monday, December 11, 2017

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True to their pledge to save lives, staff and managers of Kingston Public Hospital in downtown Kingston are justifiably happy after keeping gunshot victims alive during October.

But here is the rub: There were a staggering 104 people entering the hospital seeking treatment for gunshot wounds during October.

That reflects the horrendous crisis of crime which this country faces and the devastatingly high associated costs.

Trauma, grief and long-lasting, many-sided, psychological effects apart, crime is said to be costing Jamaicans five per cent of gross domestic product or more than $60 billion annually.

National Security Minister Robert Montague tells us that it is costing as much $400,000 daily to keep a single gunshot victim in intensive care.

No matter which angle you are looking from, it makes sense to confront the crime monster and win.

Logic and good sense dictate that the approach must be multidimensional with increased attention to meeting the social and welfare needs of downtrodden communities. Hence the strong social component of the zones of special operation initiative — one obvious aim being to convince young people that their country offers hope to such an extent that they need not resort to criminal and antisocial behaviour.

A strong enforcement aspect of the anti-crime strategy should also seek to ensure that everyone knows that, in any case, crime doesn't pay.

Obviously those messages should resonate not just in the special security zones — currently confined to just two — but in every nook and cranny. That's why this newspaper has consistently joined calls for a comprehensive community-based anti-crime drive involving the partnership of all well-thinking Jamaicans and groups, including Government, Opposition and so-called civil society.

Simplistic as it may seem to some, everyone must play his/her small part in all respects, but perhaps most crucially in giving a helping hand to those most in need.

It is obvious that an area of major vulnerability relates to how the nation raises its children. Deprived, impoverished, angry, badly socialised children are — for the most part — the ones who are taking guns and ammunition from evil manipulators to hold Jamaicans at ransom.

That means the society has to raise its children better, which is precisely the message distinguished chartered accountant and philanthropist Mr Leighton McKnight is trying to get across.

Mr McKnight of the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, who was recently honoured by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica, says he has helped 50 children from deprived homes with their education — some have gone all the way to university.

Noting that too many children are “growing up angry”, Mr McKnight is urging Jamaicans to follow his example.

Says he: “My greatest achievements are not my professional accomplishments, but the positive change I have been able to make in the life of the children I have helped. But there is still so much more to do in Jamaica. Don't worry about what you can't do. Do what you can with what you have…”

Jamaicans should stop, think about it all, and imagine what a difference it would make if we could all emulate Mr McKnight in our own small way. Enlightened self-interest dictates that we should all do our part to raise the nation's children properly.




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