Founder and President of Men Empowerment Network Support Fabian Sargeant is concerned about the spate of gun crime taking place in Barbados, and he wants more done to equip the guys on the block with essential knowledge and skills many of them are lacking.
The experienced social worker told Barbados TODAY that while there are government programmes being offered through the Ministry of Youth and Community Empowerment that target deviant youths, he believes that government cannot reach all.
Sargeant suggested that government must foster strong bonds and relationships with non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), charities and community groups, and equip them with the necessary resources to help tackle what he has described as a crisis.
He also said the church must return to communities to help struggling families find their way.
“The cost that it would take government to execute a particular project or programme, I know that with volunteer work and civil society organisations and charities, they can do it for a fraction of that cost.
“I think that government needs to maybe have a secretariat or programme to offer leadership training for these community groups. This means that more young people and young men would engage in wholesome activities and give back to the communities.
“I also would like to see churches stepping up to the plate. Churches have some of the most resources in this country, whether it be through access to their buildings. Churches are well-placed to assist young people in the communities across Barbados,” he noted.
Sargeant said that while there is need for more programmes targeting deviant youths, there is no one solution to the problem.
Indicating that families have been under threat due to varying factors, the community activist indicated that many young men have left educational institutions unable to read and with limited intellectual capacity.
“These two areas are very critical to the overarching problem. However, while I agree and strongly support and recommend that the police play a greater role in relation to trying to get illegal guns off the streets, because we don’t manufacture guns in Barbados, I am reaching out to the authorities to use the strength and resources that they have to wrestle this elephant to the ground.
“While we need to get that done we have to focus on the greater issue and the real problem, which is the behaviour of individuals with guns in their hands. If it is not a gun, it could easily be a knife, cutlass or a rock. People need to be able to manage their emotions and their anger,” he said. (AH)