A mixture of prayer, social intervention and counseling seems to be the remedy for getting some students in secondary schools and other institutions to run away from gangs.
Offering high commendation to the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) for its hard work in slowing the spate of crime Barbados experienced at the beginning of the year, youth activist Roger Husbands, said more than 25 teen males and females known to be affiliated with gang activity in schools have informed him in the last few days that they are ready to turn their lives around.
Husbands told Barbados TODAY he believes the 72 hours of prayer for peace in the nation, which was spearheaded by the Ministry of People Empowerment, had a lot to do with the change of their mindset.
“They are talking about what was happening and about the number of people that have died in just one month,” he said.
Husbands made it clear that he was not in a position to speak about persons involved in gang-related activities in the streets.
The chairman of the Drug Education and Counselling Services said the young adults between the ages of 11 and 18 years old have also been paying close attention to Barbados recording nine murders in January 2019, several of which were due to gun-related incidents.
“From the time the Cynthia Forde (Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs) called the weekend of prayer, and churches got together to pray, I have been seeing a change. The youngsters are coming in and saying ‘sir, you know what, I am done with this thing’.
“They are saying that they can’t be fighting over foolish colours, and names and pants and all kind of things. They are realizing that it is stupid and they are realizing that people are being shot and killed for being involved in gangs,” Husbands said.
The activist also shared that some of the teens indicated to him that they have come to a realization that they must focus on getting a solid education that would enable them to reach academic excellence and pursue legitimate careers.
“So imagine if we could keep praying like this over the nation continuously, then we would see some serious changes. But we need to keep praying. This would total about 26 of them coming to me in the last few days. Imagine if we could get more young people to have this change of mind and look at things this way,” he said.
Husbands said that he plans on holding a closed-door meeting with some of the teens that are working on changing their lives, and others, to discuss ways in which they can take a new path.
“We are trying to say to them you need to really make a change, and think about the school work, think about the future and think about your life. We are trying to give them the room where they can sit and talk. So hopefully we should start seeing a change in the schools in terms of that kind of behaviour,” he said.
Husbands said that while there has been an apparent ease in the crime wave, there must be a continuation of the measures put in place by the police for peace to reign.
“The police has been doing a fantastic job, I am telling you. Based on the intelligence that I have received, what the police is doing, although some people may think is too harsh, is working.
“So you would see a calm right now, but if the police ever stop, you would see it start to come back again,” Husbands said.