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Murder in paradise: call to get gang members to help youth

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Murder in Paradise lecture at Bermuda College. Camille Creary and Ras Mykkal (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A programme where young people could visit seasoned gang members who would try to draw them away from antisocial behaviour was among suggestions made at a talk last night.

Presenters also highlighted the need for broader opportunities in education and a return to family values when they took part in the second of Bermuda College’s two-part lecture series, Murder in Paradise.

Camille Creary, a social worker and advocate for people caught up in systemic social injustice, said: “We have started to tune out the violence unless we are directly affected, and as a result our community is starting to break down.”

She told the audience: “It’s very important that we look at — if we’re talking from a law enforcement perspective — the socio-economic impact on neighbourhoods in regards to, oftentimes, gang activity.

“These people potentially may be paying for your child’s birthday party; if you need help with the rent, so-and-so’s got you and you’re not going to ask questions where the money came from."

Ms Creary said: “When you have a community who is in such a desperate financial situation, it’s very hard for them … to turn on the people who are willing to help, based on the fact that that money came from illegitimate means, because who is substituting that?”

Her suggestions included a visitation programme where young people understood to have “certain affiliations” could talk to "seasoned members of those same gangs“ who were serving time to hear why it was important to steer themselves in another direction.

She proposed that camps — often privatised — could have five free or sponsored places for children whose families were unable to afford the cost.

Ras Mykkal, a social commentator and community activist, in a presentation first delivered in 2012, feared that family structures and values could be at their lowest standards in the island’s history.

He said there should be a greater focus on developing life skills.

Mr Mykkal added: “The dysfunctional family values are becoming an acceptable way of life, hence our children have the tendency to emulate these negative behaviours and consider them the norm.”

He believed there was “no room in Bermuda” for creative people.

Mr Mykkal said: “Let’s try teaching our children how to think, instead of what to think.”

An audience heard from speakers including Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe and Kudre Hill, who lost his younger brother to violence, in the first of the two talks in September.

Necheeka Trott, president of the college’s faculty association working with the lecture series committee, said suggestions on how to address antisocial behaviour in Bermuda were later pulled together in a draft working document.

She said last night that the aim was to “stimulate meaningful discussion geared towards arriving at viable solutions that protect, enhance the lives of all young males at risk” on the island.

Ms Trott told the audience that the proposals included improving educational opportunities and added that she believed the Government was working on this with its school reforms.

Other suggestions were to: “Create educational and sporting opportunities via partnerships with entities to design programmes that equip at-risk youth with the tools that they need to become completely self-sufficient and less likely to engage in antisocial behaviour.

“Have sufficient resources to provide avenues that facilitate mentors for influencing, building self-esteem, educational fortitude, networking skills that may lead to economic growth, self-reliance and personal development.

“Conduct ongoing research designed to analyse the cause and effects of antisocial behaviour tendencies among Bermuda’s young Black males.

“Provide avenues with widespread historical cultural awareness for our young people.”

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Published November 30, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated November 30, 2022 at 8:56 am)

Murder in paradise: call to get gang members to help youth

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