Put up or shut up!

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A local charity that assists at-risk youth is appealing with the authorities and Barbadians on a whole to intervene to put a stop to the rising number of young people who go to jail or the Government Industry School.

The 20-year-old Nature Fun Ranch in St Andrew said all the young people wanted was a chance to progress and often they are deprived of this opportunity.

Founder Corey Layne told Barbados TODAY too many of those in a position to assist were giving nothing but lip service.

“I have a fundamental and serious concern. My concern really is that we like to talk about these things,” he said.

“The thing is, we have a lot of solutions to a lot of our problems . . . we know the solutions. What we have to do is to put up or shut up. What we have to do is get out there and volunteer. Get out there and help facilitate, get out there and do. A lot of people are capable,” Layne insisted.

In the last week alone, nine teenagers ranging in age from 11 to 16 have found themselves in trouble with the law.

Last Thursday seven were remanded after admitting to several criminal offenses. The lone 16-year-old was sent to Dodds prison while a 13-year-old and five 14-year-olds were sent to the Government Industrial School. A day later an 11-year-old and a 13-year-old also appeared in court on burglary charges.

Since the start of the year there have been several cases of young men being charged with robbery, and some with armed robbery.

Layne said many of the young men and women were drawn to a life of crime because they simply could not cope with the school system.

“We have a cadre of young people out there who are not interested in school. The school system has not evolved with the time. They are into technology and we are still into chalk and talk. The delivery method of school is outdated and a lot of young people just go to school because they are forced to. They have no interest. And then at lunchtime or break time they get more involved in sex and drugs because that is exciting, whereas school is not. We have to get with the times. That is my concern,” he explained.

The youth development advocate said a number of the teenagers needed to be loved and longed for someone to understand them and “a place to belong”.

However, he said, due to the attitude that “it is not my child”, the wider society often turns a blind eye to some of the trouble signs.

The former prison official said the impression given to these troubled children is that “people quite frankly don’t care anything about them”. ‘

“‘Cory, people look down on us’. That is something I used to hear when I worked in the prison system,” Layne said, going on to state that unless the authorities make some systemic changes “and not just poke at this problem”, the problem would persist.

“We cannot just look at the fruit of a very bad tree. We have got to get to the root and the root is treating to it after understanding. It is about understanding it, discussing it and acting,” he said.

Meantime, Men Against Naughty Deadbeat Mums, a loose association which describes itself as a forum for frustrated men to vent, is sharing similar concerns about the incarceration of young boys.

Its founder Kammie Holder told Barbados TODAY it was troubling that “seven young men were incarcerated for their misdeeds”.

Holder blamed the situation on a failure of society, the education and judicial systems and parents.

“Our young men are thought as failures within our educational system via the common entrance,” the father-of-two said.

“We also have an issue in this country which no one wants to speak about and that is something called the parental alienation syndrome,” he added.

Holder explained that while there were many fathers who were “deliberately” missing from their children’s lives, a large number of men had turned their backs on their children out of frustration.

“You have situations where some mothers in spite, decide to lie to the court system and turn kids against their fathers. No man in this country who is allowed only three hours every other week can be a father,” Holder complained.

“The parental alienation syndrome must be recognized within our system because it is destroying families. In addition, what it leads to is dysfunction within our homes,” he added.

(Marlon Madden)

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