Barbadian minors are becoming increasingly aggressive, with a growing number of them committing violent crimes, according to a senior court official.
While not providing details such as numbers or age ranges, Supreme Court Registrar Barbara Cooke-Alleyne said young children were committing fewer petty crimes and are now appearing before the courts for more savage offences.
“Every year the Registration Department compiles statistics on what is happening in the courts. Currently we have figures from 2011 to April this year, and they show that from 2011 to 2014 the main crime among the boys was theft, and with girls it was wandering. But more recently, this has changed; assault is now the leading crime among both boys and girls, and we are also seeing an increase in actual bodily harm, which is more severe than assault,” Cooke-Alleyne said at a presentation ceremony this week at the Collymore Rock Church of the Nazarene where she received a cheque from the Guardian group in support of the Winner’s Circle programme administered by the Attorney General’s office.
She blamed a number of factors for this change, including “what we are seeing on the Internet, the music they are listening to” and the lack of guidance from the extended family.
“Previously grandparents and people in the neighbourhood kept an eye on the young ones in their midst, but now neighbours are keeping to themselves. We have also found that some children stop going to church after leaving primary school, thereby losing one important influence on their lives, while others stop participating in activities like athletics, Brownies and Scouts at this age, not recognizing that this will keep their minds active and can even expose them to opportunities for scholarships,” the court official said.
However, Cooke-Alleyne said the judicial system was looking at a series of new measures to help stem the tide of deviance, among which are the introduction of community service for those under the age of 16 and restorative justice, “which will bring greater healing to all parties involved, as it will enable children to discuss what they have done, recognize the pain it has caused to others and make amends”.
Now in its tenth year, the Winner’s Circle programme is aimed at helping children make the transition from primary to secondary school and covers a number of subject areas ranging from legal matters and drug awareness to puberty and the physical and emotional changes they go through as the grow.