PORT OF SPAIN – Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, who in the past has labelled Trinidad and Tobago as a violent society, on Friday urged parents to do more to curb the spread of criminal activities particularly among children between the ages 10 to 17 years.
Addressing the opening of a police station in Maraval on the outskirts of the capital, Rowley sad that these young children were turning from primary school angels into violent teens by the age of 15 and some of them by the time they leave school they have become demons unleashing terror on society.
“By the time they get to age 15, there is a pattern of behaviour in the secondary schools that gets more and more unacceptable. We have a cohort of the population that is beginning to demonstrate penchant for violence that is unacceptable.
“By the time they get to age 17 and they come out of the school and no longer under the school umbrella, they are now out there in the society, some of them working, some of them liming, some of them training to handle firearms and a whole wave of violence unleashed and you ask yourself what would have happened between the primary school angels and the demons the police are confronting from time to time.”
Rowley told the audience that poor parenting may be a cause for the situation, adding “I want to say something to my fellow citizens today that something is happening inside there that needs to be found, needs to be addressed otherwise this cycle will only get further and further away from us.
“And I could tell you I am not an expert in this matter, I am open to advice, but I am not entirely without a brain cells so I can come to a conclusion now before I am advised that a significant portion of the difficulty in this country is poor parenting”.
Rowley said he was challenging parents to reflect on their methods of parenting adding “and if you are a parent in this country or a guardian and you are responsible for young people, I want you today, if you heard what I said, quietly reflect on whether you really think that you are discharging your responsibility to your neighbourhood, your family and the nation as you parent that boy or girl.
“I want to ask you to do that in private and if the answer is no, you are not doing what you should be doing, I am asking you today to assume that responsibility,” Rowley said, adding that the government is going to direct more resources “to this issue at this time because it is required.
“Something is happening between our nine and 10 year olds and our 17-year olds that is causing our society to be what it is,” Rowley said, reminding police officers also of their role in the society.
“We will not be able to jail ourselves or shoot ourselves out of this or kill ourselves out of this because those are not actions that are for correction or for guidance.
“I will wish that no police officer even if they carry a firearm, should never see the occasion to pull the trigger, but by the same token if the people you are confronting also have the option to pull the trigger, are prepared to pull it, how many Westerns (movies) have you seen, there is no prizes for second place.
“These are serious issues and it is not sufficient to come with emotions every two months or every three weeks and wail and whimper about what has happened to who is now a named person. We need to get to the root of this problem,” Rowley added.
Trinidad and Tobago has recorded 279 murders since the start of the year as compared with 186 for the same period last year. (CMC)