Plans To Quash Gang Opportunities For Youth
NASSAU, The Bahamas — The Government of The Bahamas is intent on reducing the opportunities for Bahamian youth to be drawn into gangs or criminal groups, by developing a number of positive and innovative policies and practices geared towards the nation’s youth, Minister of National Security, Dr. Bernard J. Nottage said September 24.
Addressing the Opening Session of the Anti-Gang Workshop at the Paul H. Farquharson Conference Centre, Police Headquarters, Dr. Nottage said far too many young people see violence as a way to make a statement.
Dr. Nottage said the new policies and procedures will help ensure “that our young people are not crossing the line from law-abiding citizens to budding criminals.”
“They are not prepared to use methods of conflict resolution to defuse their differences with others,” Dr. Nottage said. “The number of persons either on remand or serving time in prison for acts of violence and other forms of criminality is far too high and we are obliged to find ways to rectify this situation.”
“As Minister of National Security, I call on all parents, family members and all right thinking citizens and residents of this nation to encourage our young people to choose the path of civility. Ensure that they are not crossing the line from law-abiding citizens to budding criminals.
“And wherever you see signs of gang type behaviour, move immediately to seek assistance from the various agencies of the community before they too become victims of mindless violence. I also call on our partners in the church and civil society to lend a helping hand in this noble effort to save all of our people,” Dr. Nottage added.
The National Security Minister said “organised gang crime” is posing a serious threat to the security of citizens within the region “and we in The Bahamas are not immune to the impact of gang-related crimes.”
“The presence of the organised, gang culture is a serious impediment to regional communities,” Dr. Nottage said. “The gangs are well-organised and sophisticated, and are involved in activities such as drug smuggling, human trafficking, gun smuggling and money laundering.
“Indeed, the presence of the gang culture is a serious social impediment in our society,” Dr. Nottage added.
Dr. Nottage said the Government plans to attack the gang culture by exposing Bahamian youth – many of whom are drawn to the culture at a young age — to a series of positive activities through the re-establishment of the Urban Renewal Programme.
“With the implementation of Urban Renewal 2.0, our young people will be exposed to those activities that would result in the proper development of the future of our nation,” Dr. Nottage said.
“Character building blocks such as hard work, motivation, discipline, respect for the property of others, nurturing, role modelling, and mentorship are but a sample of what we endeavour to see in those who are a part of the various Urban Renewal programmes.
“Today, we have come to pool our ideas on ways to eliminate or control the proliferation of gang violence or gang type violence in our communities. At this workshop, participants will experience the impartation of information that should empower them to be more confident in carrying out their duties as police officers in seeking to make a difference in our beloved country.
“We cannot afford to lose a generation to crime and the lawlessness that it produces. Similarly, we will not allow the future of this country to be shaped by those whose intention is to create fear, injury and pandemonium in the society,” Dr. Nottage said.
By Matt Maura
Bahamas Information Services