Magistrate Graveney Bannister has suggested there is need for a halfway house in Barbados where men can be sent by the court rather than be incarcerated.
He said instead of sentencing and jailing persons, efforts should be made to rehabilitate and provide them with alternative arrangements that would allow them to learn skills, work and learn how to save.
“I don’t think that we have as much interest in that area in trying to propel people into skills and into areas where they are not academically inclined. Maybe a trade school would be good, outside of the Samuel Jackman Prescod polyclinic (Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology),” he said.
Magistrate Bannister made the suggestion as he contributed to Monday’s online Man Talk panel discussion which addressed the topic How Much Is The Church Doing To Help Rescue At-Risk Men?
The Anglican priest, who made it clear that the church cannot be blamed for men at-risk, said males are at risk on many fronts, including economically, socially, spiritually, and also in terms of their mental and sexual health.
He said churches, charities, government, and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) all have to work together to reduce the number of at-risk males. He pointed out that there is a large number of unemployed males who are unable to sustain themselves after repeatedly being denied employment primarily because of past encounters with the law.
Bannister added that many men have not taken education seriously. While women are encouraged to further their education, he said, most men are focused on making quick money in illegal circumstances, in many instances, that land them before the law courts.
He said while there are often talks about breaking the ceiling for women in the workforce, discussions regarding focusing on inclusion of men on a large scale are limited.
Bannister said many men are also afraid to express themselves and allow their egos and tempers to take hold of them when challenged with unique situations because they do not know how to respond appropriately.
“Some men feel as though they are left out of the equation and they do not know how to respond because they are not trained or they are not retraining themselves, so they are left behind and in trying to catch up, they run themselves in trouble by stealing and turning to crime.
“I don’t think the church can be blamed, because the church has limited resources. But many churches out there are quietly in society doing lots of things to help men and to create opportunities for men. So, I would not put the blame on the church,” he said.
Bannister also noted that even in cases when limited resources are available, there are churches that serve as a conduit to direct people to avenues where they can seek employment and get other needed assistance.
Director of Drug Education and CounselLing Services, Roger Husbands, who also sat on the panel, agreed that while the church has its role to play in helping to rescue at risk men, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) must also be included since these groups are already on the ground working with at risk individuals.
Husbands suggested that there are many charitable organisations which started in the church and now no longer exist due to lack of finances and resources. He said there are many churches across Barbados with massive buildings that can allow charities to use their resources.
“The reality is that we are the people who can work with the cases that some church folks don’t want to deal with. Let us be real, there are some people who will come into the church that church people cannot deal with so therefore having people to assist these men, especially these men who are at risk is important.
“We have the skills, we have the people on board, but we need the church to give us volunteers. For me personally I need volunteers. When you ask the church to give them, they don’t have the men to send because the men are active in the choir and this and that. The most fundamental important thing the church should focus on, is how can we leave a legacy for the boys that are coming, how can we build a movement for men as opposed to all of these programmes. We need to work on the young men and keep them in the church,” Husbands said.