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More kids in gangs – counsellor

by Anesta Henry
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Roger Husbands

More children are joining gangs across the island, a prominent youth activist declared today, as he called on the authorities to hold parents accountable for their children’s actions even if it means paying fees.

And while expecting a backlash for his comments, Roger Husbands, the head of a rehabilitation programme for at-risk youth, said his ongoing research has also revealed that an alarming number of pre-teens are committing adult crimes.

Husbands told Barbados TODAY: “I am seeing a totally different kind of age group that I have never seen before.

“Right now one of the gangs in one of the parishes in Barbados have people as young as nine years old, primary school children, involved in it.

“But I am still waiting on more information to clarify all the age groups and when I get that information from the sources that I work with now, I will be able to bring something to Barbados.

“And Barbados could decide if they want to take it or don’t want to take it.”

Last week, a 14-year-old boy was one of two males charged with the early morning shooting death of Marlon Holder on January 16 while he was dropping his son off at St Alban’s Primary School.

Husbands, the chairman of the Drug Education and Counselling Services (DECS), also indicated that his initial findings showed that children were being initiated into the gangs at schools through peers who already have connections with groups in communities.

He said: “The friends introduce them to it. You see they don’t introduce the negative part.

“They introduce the part which is this is what we do as thugs, this is what we do as soldiers, we support each other.

“And a child who is looking for affirmation and looking for belonging will head straight to that especially if they know they will have a crew that respect them.

“The thing is that children always looking for attention, they are always looking for affection.

“And parents who don’t check their children from those young ages would lose them after a while.”

Adding that he would reveal more about his findings at a press conference yet to be called, Husbands said he believed it was time parents be held responsible for neglecting their parental duties, including failing to attend school meetings and not disciplining their wards appropriately.

The counsellor also accused some parents of failing to nurture and care for their children.

He said it was time parents wake up and realise that they were not just child bearers, but that they were also responsible for meeting the needs of their wards in every possible way.

Husbands said: “I think the schools should have laws set up that when the parents don’t obey those laws they are sanctioned to different penalties.

“It doesn’t have to be prison. But you should have to spend some money out of your pocket. It may be a situation where you would have to pay $100.

“I realise that when parents have to shell out money for something they take more responsibility.

“I have a lessons programme and parents take far more responsibility making sure the children go to the lesson because they are paying.

“So we hit the parents where it hurts, at the pocket. If you don’t want to spend money, take some time to discipline your children properly.” anestahenry@barbadostoday.bb

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