Open letter from a concerned TEEN: SOEs don't do much - Here is what should be done

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Children and TEENS are being kidnapped and persons are being murdered in droves, and another State of Emergency (SOE) won't fix that. Or at least, that was my stance weeks ago when the implementation of yet another SOE in Western Jamaica was being argued.

Given the absolute mayhem the nation watched criminals wreak in May Pen a few days ago, I'm left feeling uncertain a State of Emergency will do much, but terrified of just what might happen (again) without one. Nevertheless, the fact remains, and is even demonstrably clear as a result of recent happenings, that SOEs don't do much.

We've all heard the statistics and are aware that the number of crimes tend to drop while a State of Emergency is in place, for the area wherein one is in effect. But it doesn't take a genius to realize that SOEs are the lid partially perched on top of a boiling pot; the water inside bubbles away happily until it splashes over the sides of the pot and on to the stove, and you (still) have a big mess on your hands. As a crime blaster, the tools of SOEs and Zones of Special Operations (ZOSO) are largely ineffectual – merely pushing criminals outside of their usual stomping grounds and into crossing county and parish borders, or causing them to lay fairly low for a time, but not actually annihilating crime and criminal intent.

Now, I did say SOEs aren't doing much, but 'not much' is still better than nothing at all. One murder delayed or prevented is still a victory of sorts, no matter how short-lived. That said, SOEs alone won't cut it – they haven't in the recent past and they probably won't now. So in addition to the SOEs, I suggest a few things to help lower the crime rate:

1. Bring Ethics to the fore

As basic as neighbourliness, kindness and consideration may seem, these values aren't at play when Jamaicans are harming their fellow countrymen. By bringing these lessons as social campaigns and classroom topics we can cement good values in the minds of the populace.

2. Focus less on 'Crime Doesn't Pay' and more on building and strengthening a common moral code

If crime really didn't pay no one would commit criminal acts. Rather than focusing on pushing an old adage that simply isn't true, encourage personal and group accountability, and a sense of morality that makes crime repugnant regardless of gains that can be made.

3. Be tough(er) on crime

'Crime doesn't pay' may well be an empty saying, but having a more robust justice system will go a long way in deterring crime. When persons actually believe they will get caught, and will be punished severely, they'll think twice or thrice and about committing a crime.

4. Revisit the policy on rehabilitation

Making our rehabilitation policy the best it can possibly be will not only ensure that our prisons do not remain filled with persons who don't have to be there, but it will also ensure that persons that have finished serving their sentences leave prisons retrained, converted and able to adapt to life outside.

5. Better pay and benefits for police officers

The way I see it underpaid, overworked and angry persons won't apply themselves wholeheartedly to solving crime and keeping anyone safe.

6. Better pay and benefits for teachers

Teachers are some of the biggest influences in our lives, as the persons from whom children and us,TEENS, will primarily learn and be motivated to achieve educational goals by. Offering teachers better pay and benefits will better enable them to attend to their duties attentively and enthusiastically, essentially ensuring that every student learns and is made aware of his/her own unique strengths, abilities and potential.

7. Active partnership between parents and schools in moulding children

A breakdown in relations between school administration, parents and children is at the heart of our nation's battle with indiscipline. When parents, teachers and students see themselves as partners in education – each with a role to play, and each allowing the other to play his or her part – discipline will be attained and structure preserved.

8. Unearth corruption and properly address poverty

Even though poor persons aren't the only ones who commit crime, criminal activities begin to look more attractive and/or easier to justify when one truly believes (and has reason to believe) social systems are designed to favour everyone else. Unearthing corruption, ensuring a reasonably level playing field for all Jamaicans and equitably assisting those who need it most will go a long way in addressing and eliminating needs that may lead persons to careers in crime.

-- Sincerely, A Concerned Jamaican Teen





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