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Crime drives fear in all law-abiding citizens

By Bert Samuels

Bert Samuels2.jpg

“What is really needed to stop the crime and moral decay in the society is to start with the kindergarten and basic schools where teachers will have to become more than teachers and play the role of parents.”


Prominent attorney-at-law Bert Samuels sees the high level of crime in Jamaica as one of the country's greatest problems. He pointed out that despite the country’s rich heritage and although it produces some of the best athletes and performing artistes in the world, crime is driving fear into all law-abiding citizens.

This is what Mr. Samuels has to say on the issue and as he hopes for an end to the crime and violence plaguing the country.


Jamaicans who reside abroad would like to return and spend their retirement years on the rock, but crime is keeping them away.

The link between hopelessness, school dropout, no trade centre, no employment, no father in the family and the high crime rate among young males is our greatest challenge as a nation celebrating 60 years of independence.

So, we have the harshest criminals and the greatest runners.

The reason scamming has caught on so well, it is the promise of easy money, not worked for and putting money into the hands of misguided youth. Their use of this easy money to carry out murders and plunder of communities tells a sad story that it is not really money they need to better themselves and their poor families. What they really need is guidance and proper values, which the homes have failed to provide.


Sometimes we say poverty is the cause of crime but here it is paradoxically- money is the cause of crime. Studies do show that people who are poor are likely to become criminals. But look at a man who has money and uses that money to perpetuate crime. It tells you that lack of strong values and healthy family background are the primary cause of crime.

Take a look at poor rural villages where people respect one another, and people tell one another good evening and good morning. They are poor but they respect each other particularly the old. It is my firm belief that it is upbringing that counts and not so much lack of money.

When there is no secured home environment, and a child or youth must fend for himself or is homeless then they are more likely to be lured into a life of crime.

There are many instances when mothers are teenagers, some even having children at age 14, then the likelihood of their daughters becoming teenage moms is nine out of ten. The cycle goes on because they too cannot give the children the financial and moral support they need to cope with the challenges in life or even to get a good education.

What is really needed to stop the crime and moral decay in the society is to start with the kindergarten and basic schools where teachers will have to become more than teachers and play the role of parents.

It is very difficult to govern the youth who have not had basic guidance and upbringing. Recent videos have surfaced where a ten-year-old is using profane and dirty language to adults. This shows that children have no boundaries, no limit as to what they will say in the presence of adults.

So, it is my view that it is best for the authorities to put more focus on the very young. Many youths are now ungovernable, so we must try and rescue the infants at infant or basic schools. The teachers could get additional training and move into the position of parents because these teenage moms cannot guide them.

A misguided mom cannot produce a guided child. Therefore, we have to depend on the teachers at the kindergarten and basic school level to teach the children values. Some children are not even taught the basic good manners of good morning, good evening, excuse me, thank you or how to respond in certain circumstances.


Anger management must be one of the issues that children must be taught how to handle. Children must be taught that when someone hits you retaliation is not the right response, they do not have to fight but can report the matter to the teacher. The law does not allow for people to take revenge and a lot of people end up in prison because of revenge.

There are too many instances in which persons are stabbed and killed or fatally shot because a stranger, or friends or even family members used words which are regarded as offensive.  A sense of reasoning is devoid in the minds of many of our youth and so they resort to violence.

Words do not justify violent conduct so anger management amongst boys in particular is very important; where offensive words are used, young men who fail to react with violence are seen as soft or not manly. The once popular saying sticks and stones can break my bones but words can do me nothing is lost in the Jamaican psychic.  Sometimes when you hear the cause for a murder all that was needed was a simple walk away.

There is a correlation between a lack of education and anger management and aggression rather than reasoning.

The frightening statistics on crime can only be understood if we know the conditions under which the offenders were grown up. Horrific crimes come from people who live under horrific conditions therefore no law-abiding citizen is spared.

A mother who should be showing love to her child is oftentimes seen hitting the child in the head because of a mistake or minor blunder. This teaches the child to use violence to resolve issues rather than reasoning. In acts of reprisals even mothers and grandmothers are killed. Where is that respect for the elders, it is so sad to say, the respect is no more.

Bert Samuels is a well known and highly respected attorney-at-law in Jamaica

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