Letters to the Editor

When will we get a handle on crime in Jamaica?

Monday, September 24, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

In both The Gleaner and the Jamaica Observer of September 20 an article was carried expressing the surprise and concern of the chairman of the Board of Cornwall College re the action of the school's resource officer in having in 15 schoolboys taken to a police station for questioning. I wonder why the board chairman should feel the need to express shock at the action of a police officer, especially given the situation as reported, of the boys' unwillingness to speak about what they knew of the incident.

We live in a time and society when telling the truth and speaking up about wrongdoing is considered old-fashioned, even unnatural. Is the Reverend gentleman ignoring the failure of the boys, in one of our premier institutions of learning and character-building, to do the right thing? Is honesty no longer considered a virtue? Are parents and schools no longer in the business of inculcating moral absolutes in our youngsters?

In the United States, in the 1980s or 1990s, there was a programme named

"Scared Straight" where youngsters were taken on visits to prisons to be shown the starkness of the conditions, and to be addressed by inmates on the harsh realities of a life of crime, in order to "scare them straight". It is reported to have had a very sobering effect on young people who may have been drifting towards a life of crime. Is it possible that the Cornwall College school resource officer was trying a similar tactic in order to get the guilty party to own up, or to encourage one of the boys who may have had knowledge of the facts to speak up? Was this such a bad thing, that we need to condemn? Is there not in our laws the requirement for anyone having knowledge of a crime to report it, or failing to do so, be considered a collaborator in that crime? I remember learning in school the little "gem": "Speak the truth and speak it ever, cost it what it will; He who hides the wrong he does, does the wrong thing still."

Surely, if our homes fail to teach our children to do what is right regardless of the consequences, as the book of Proverbs and other Scriptures suggest, then schools surely need to take up the responsibility. Otherwise, we will be supporting wrong, and holding with our dancehall artists who proclaim that "informer fi dead". By our condemnation of the police's action, aren't we saying that truth no longer matters, and that people who give information to authority figures and the police about wrongdoing are to be excoriated? When will we get a handle on crime in Jamaica if people who lead our country and its institutions no longer uphold truth-telling?

May God have mercy on Jamaica!

Lloyd A Cooke

Mandeville

lcookemia@gmail.com

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