Letters to the Editor

Let's stop ignoring the signs

Monday, February 10, 2014    

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Dear Editor,

Only a few days ago I attended the funeral service for 15-year-old Desrick Williams of Balaclava High School and Ashnell Coke of Maggotty High School, in Thornton, St Elizabeth. Their tiny little bodies evoked solemn emotions. They were attempting to offset the challenges posed by hard economic times and instead met a tragic end.

The member of Parliament for the area, Raymond Pryce, made a poignant statement. He said that the community had failed the young men. The alleged killer had issued threats and had slaughtered a few goats before allegedly committing this tragic act. All the warning signs were there, but they were ignored.

Today we face a similar event in Top Hill, St Thomas, young Celeena's death may have been preventable. Her member of parliament, James Robertson, repeated what Pryce had said, the community failed her. The alleged perpetrator also showed warning signs that were ignored.

We are often told, and it has become a cliche to say, that it takes a village to raise a child. And we know that our communities are so financially challenged that they cannot look out for anybody but themselves. They are falling apart, as they are challenged by economic problems, social dislocation, poor water supply, poor roads, rampant criminality, unemployment and underunemployment, which make us all vulnerable. And yet we are surprised when young people act out.

What we urgently need to do is flood our communities, not with well-armed policemen, but social scientists and workers to reinforce values and attitudes that surpass just existing from day to day. The message must be sent that there is more to life than this burdensome task of scraping together a meagre existence in a hopeless society.

Today our prime minister flies all over the world and frequently meets with heads of government in countries far better than ours. But Mrs Simpson Miller didn't always dress in well-tailored suits and travel in such style and elegance. There was another time and another place that she seems to have forgotten that still haunts the majority of us and robs our children of their future. Mrs Simpson Miller, remember you are where you are because the poor put you there, don't take our expectations for granted. Just remember your oft repeated phrase,"wicked and uncaring". Let's hope that it doesn't become self-fulfilling.

Mark Clarke

Siloah, St Elizabeth

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