MANDEVILLE, Manchester – Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding is confident that a Beliefs, Values and Attitudes (BVA) programme introduced in Manchester can help to reduce social delinquency and crime, although a similar initiative launched nationally in 1994 by then Prime Minister PJ Patterson suffered due to partisan politics.
Golding, who spoke at the launch ceremony and sensitisation session for the programme at the Church Teachers' College last Thursday, said that he may have been part of the political vilification of Patterson's values and attitude transformation campaign.
“… It fell victim to the politics at the time and I perhaps have to bear some responsibility for that,” said Golding who was a leading member of the then Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Reflecting on crime and youth delinquency afflicting Jamaica, Golding said people often focus on, and complain about social decay, without recognising that the solution is rooted in proper socialisation.
“We spend a lot of time in discussions, whether on our verandahs, in our various association meetings, in church, on the talk shows, on social media. We spend a lot of time lamenting the deterioration in social behaviour. We see it all around us. We see it every day.
“We keep asking ourselves how did we come to this… We don't need to engage any high-priced consultant to find out. We don't need any social anthropologist, it's a simple thing. It's called socialisation. We don't need to befuddle ourselves as to how we came to this. We reap what we sow,” declared Golding as he questioned whether the society has gone beyond redemption.
The former prime minister pointed to his tenure as Member of Parliament for Kingston Western and a situation that he came across.
“When I was growing up I didn't see 15-year-old girls pregnant…I used to think that children can't have children. When I was in west Kingston I had a 26-year-old grandmother. Now when a 14-year-old is having a child, that 14-year-old, first of all wasn't socialised properly and even if [she] was in the process of being socialised, that socialisation didn't finish at 14, but she now has a child that has to be socialised,” said Golding.
“Socialisation is something that you can't avoid,” he added.
The BVA initiative is the brainchild of Custos of Manchester Garfield Green and is aimed at facilitating attitudinal change and social revitalisation.
At last week's function Green told his audience, which included community leaders, police officers, political representatives, business leaders, educators, and church leaders, that the initiative will attempt to encourage positive core values and a shared sense of social responsibility.
“We have a lot of societal problems [including] the lack of respect for self and others, high levels of crime and violence, short-term vision and short-sightedness of individuals, unsatisfactory levels of wealth and employment, which leads to a high dependency of some individuals on the state and on others,” said Green.
He pointed out that schools, home, businesses, entertainment, transportation, communities, health institutions and the justice system are some of the areas being targeted.
“One of the things that I'm pushing for is to have a uniformed group in as many schools as possible here in Manchester. A society with people achieving their God-given potential,” added Green who argued that there needs to be a restoration of safety and security in communities.
“As a little boy I remember I could walk without fear and my parents didn't have to worry. They maybe were just more concerned that I might get in the wrong company, but I could walk in my community. Now I am afraid to send my children out,” he said,
Green said the Northern Caribbean University will be instrumental in implementing the BVA initiative among the target groups including children, parents and young people.
“It is geared at promoting civic pride in our communities. Building self-esteem and respect for self and for others. Improving the standard of living for individuals, promoting law and order, creating a better community for all,” he said.