Barbados Labour Party hopeful John King wants all hands on deck in the fight to keep illegal guns out of the reach of the country’s youth.
King, Supervisor at the Government Industrial School, lashed out at those behind the importation and sale of the weapons, complaining they were “having a field day with us killing ourselves” while reaping the benefit of their evil deeds.
As the island recorded its ninth murder for the year, the former calypso monarch wondered how young people from Caribbean countries such as Barbados that were struggling economically could afford this many guns.
“We are some of the poorest nations across the earth, yet we are also turning out to be the most prolific users of guns and we don’t produce guns . . . . So it means that someone is making a humongous amount of money from us buying the guns and they are also having a field day with us killing ourselves.
“The average young person on the street does not have the capacity or the facility to buy guns in bulk and hand them out to people to shoot one another. Sometimes you see these young people with a package of sweet biscuits and a coke early in the morning, so where are they going to get money from to bring in shipments of guns and distribute them among themselves? It makes absolutely no sense,” King argued in an interview with Barbados TODAY.
The aspiring parliamentarian called for the involvement of the entire Barbadian community to reverse the slide, stressing the need for early intervention in the school system.
He cited incidents of bullying and recent reports of student-on-teacher violence as evidence that the island’s youth were crying out for help.
“In schools, apart from the academics, we are going to have to have psychologists in the schools –– persons who are going to help you deal with emotions, people who are going to help you deal with your feelings. The Church has to get involved. It really is all hands on deck. You have to tackle it from a number of areas,” he recommended.
Acknowledging that punishment had its place, King stressed that the answer did not lie in jailing more young people, many of whom he claimed were angry at the world, or in the resumption hanging.
Instead, he recommended that the authorities should focus on attacking the root causes of violence and rehabilitating deviant youth.
“How many more prisons are you going to build? We don’t need to have so many young men and women locked up. What we need to do is to probably have them in places where we can start reforming them, getting them back into society and giving them tools to cope on their own so that they don’t find themselves as angry as they are at their lives, angry at society they feel have failed them, angry at the politicians, angry at teachers, angry at everybody. We have got to find out what is the root cause of this anger and deal with it.”
King pointed fingers at the society at large, saying it had done a poor job of educating young black males about their positions in the world, and what was expected of them.
He also took issue with parents and opinion leaders, who he contended had failed to teach the youth how to make wise choices and reject unrealistic lifestyles promoted by Hollywood.
“They [youth] have an extremely low self esteem. A lot of young people believe that life in itself has no real worth, because they are trying to measure their worth by material things. They don’t have access to these material things ‘and so therefore a short life is cool, wreck it. I have nothing to live for so in the process let me destroy myself and in the process while I am angry let me destroy everyone else,’” King told Barbados TODAY.