The recent gruesome stabbing death of a 16-year-old, which sent the nation into a state of shock last Friday, has not escaped Barbados’ top legal advisor.
Attorney General Dale Marshall said immediately following the incident at the Frederick Smith School, he instructed the top brass of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) to form an alliance with the Ministry of Education to see if they can put some special mechanisms in place.
“I asked the Commissioner of Police immediately upon hearing about the incident to set up an urgent meeting with the office of the Ministry of Education. That meeting happened yesterday. This is not a case where we can have a knee-jerk response. This is not a case where we can have an uninformed response. It requires a response of the joint action of the administrators of our schools but it also requires significant input from our law enforcement,” he said.
“I asked them to get together to work with the Ministry of Education to try to bring a policing perspective with how we deal with these issues,” said Marshall.
On Friday, a 15-year-old student of the St James learning institution stabbed his fellow school mate, Temario Holder, mutiple times. He died on the spot.
The 15-year-old is in police custody.
Marshall, who was speaking to members of the media following an Inter-American Development Bank transparency forum at the Hilton resort, described the incident as a “national tragedy”, adding that “everything about this is a tragic state of affair”.
He said now was not the time to be apportioning blame, pointing out that people were on social media blaming Government, teachers, parents and churches.
“This is not the time for blame. This is the time for putting our heads together to see how we can deal with this issue,” said Marshall.
He said it did not speak well for a modern Barbados, stating that at their age they should be developing comradery and building interpersonal relationships.
“That is an irreparable wrong,” he said, adding that the country had a serious social problem.
“It is being reflected in the nunber of homicides in Barbados, an unprecidented level that cannot be accepted,” he said.
“What we have seen is a growing number of young people involved in the taking of people’s lives. This is the youngest we have at this point,” he said, recalling that earlier this year an 18, 19 and 20-year-old were charged for murder.
Barbados has recorded 42 murders so far this year.
Insisting that it was not about a “us and them” or “what Government isn’t doing”, Marshall said it was “about how we as a society have failed our young people”.
“I am not going to apportion blame, but children are born of a household and I really think at some point we need to start to grapple with what that means,” said Marshall.
He said Government had started work to help provide opportunities for the youth, highlighting changes to the Batbados Youth Service, which is now the Barbados Youth Advance Corps.
He also said Government was developing a social programme for “at-risk” households as it relates to poverty, exposure to criminal activity and families with dysfunctional children.
“Something as simple as that will make a difference,” said Marshall, adding that Government was commited to tackling the issue of crime.
“This is a problem for our society and we all have to work collaboratively to solve it,” he said.