Barbados is not the only country in the Caribbean dealing with an upsurge in criminal behaviour, including murder, drug trafficking and human trafficking.
This was the word of caution yesterday from Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, who warned that the recent crime wave affecting the island was part of a Caribbean-wide sweep by criminal elements.
Speaking during a church service, which formed part of activities marking Crime Awareness Month, Brathwaite reported on the outcome of the 16th meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council for National Security and Law Enforcement held in Trinidad last week.
He said officials discussed “the significant challenges that we have across the region”.
“And I thought to myself, this is indeed a reflection to what we are seeing in our homeland in Barbados.
“It brought home to me forcefully the extent of the problems, challenge that we have as a country,” the Attorney General said.
In terms of drugs, the CARICOM meeting found that there
had been spike in drug seizures this year, compared to previous years. A larger number of firearms have also being recovered,
He further pointed out 70 per cent of the murders committed across the region involved firearms use while the number of organized gangs had also increased.
“In terms of trafficking of people, what we call modern day slavery, there seems to be an upsurge in the number of individuals being trafficked across the region,” Brathwaite reported.
The service at Restoration Ministries, Britton’s Hill, St Michael was hosted by the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit.
In the face of the worrying crime problem, Brathwaite, who is also Minister of Home Affairs, called on Barbadians to cling to the old societal values.
“Without strong families, everything falls apart,” he warned, while imploring Barbadians “to be each other’s keeper” and to “love your neighbour as yourself”.
“They [older Barbadians] knew about kindness and empathy, and that unless you had those basic things it [society] would fall apart,” he explained to the gathering.
While lamenting the move away from such values, he acknowledged that Barbadians had embraced “modern” lifestyle
“Instead of looking after our children, we gave them the iPad, the iPhone and the television. We give them everything.
“When they are 16 we teach them how to drive and tell them take the car and go out, but we don’t tell them come to church.”
However, Brathwaite advised, “We in our modern ways, really need to go back to those basic things, look to see in our wisdom – or so we thought – that we changed those things that were working.”
At the same time, the Attorney General acknowledged a desire in parents to get the most for their offspring.
“We all want better for our children, but sometimes we need to stop and wonder if what we consider better, if what they consider better, is indeed best for them.”
“Giving our children all the things that they want isn’t necessarily best for them,” he warned, adding, “They still need to understand the basic things like hard work, that you reap what you sow, you don’t sit down and say give me and it appears. We need to give them back those values.
“As a society my fear is that unless we go back to those values that worked for us as a country, as a people – our anthem says that the Lord has been the people’s guide for the last 300 years – well let us live it. Let him continue to be our guide.”