Our Readers' Opinions
July 22, 2011

Sharpes’ Youth… my heart bleeds!

Fri, Jul 22, 2011

Editor: Sharpes seems to be the community that tops the list these days for ‘Shoot outs’, gang related violence and robberies resulting in serious bodily injuries. The recent murder of 19-year-old Andy John of Redemption Sharpes, in which other youth-men were involved, is another indication that this community needs special attention.{{more}}

It appears as though there are a number of gangs with access to unlicensed firearms. Residents sometimes talk about the sound of gunshots in the early hours of the morning or in high daylight. We’ve heard about robberies resulting in victims being seriously injured.

These days, whenever I say I’m from Sharpes, I almost always get responses like: “So, you from the bad man community…that community real violent yo see…wa happen to dem yute man in Sharpes?” Recently I was visiting Fancy village. After informing someone that I was born and grew up in Sharpes, he said “yo mean Sharpes in town where all the shootings take place”? So, the reputation of Sharpes is country wide. Sad, sad!

In my days of going to school in Sharpes, it was known as a community of good footballers – not violence. The upsurge of lawlessness that has been taking place in Sharpes within the last five to ten years is heart-breaking.

A studied structured approach needs to be taken in dealing with this community as it relates to increase in violence. For example, we need to know the reason for Sharpes’ youth involvement in gangs, the home

background of youth who tend to become involved in gangs and criminal activities. Is the increase in violence in that area tied to unemployment? Is there a lack of educational programs or facilities, or is it a failure on the youth’s part to access these programs?

I have heard about a few outreach programs and initiatives to form community groups and get the youth involved, but much more needs to be done. Practical help must be given to these youth e.g. ongoing skills training centres where the attendees can receive a stipend for effort/work done to benefit the same community. Let’s face it, you can invite a young man to join a group, to join pan-against-crime etc. but if he can’t get money to at least buy a meal and a suit of clothes, it will not be long before

he leaves the group, becomes idle again. And we know the famous saying, “the devil finds work for idle hands to do.”

We can all agree that a community effort is needed. However, oftentimes the ordinary man does not have the physical resources to implement his good ideas. A STRUCTURED, RESEARCHED, PRACTICAL and consistent approach is needed by the government, along with organisations/persons who can lend support. I believe that many of these youth can be reached- whose minds are still impressionable and open to guidance. Of course, there are those who are bent on being a menace to society. These should be dealt with sternly by the law.

The youth are in dire need of help. My heart bleeds for the community, not only because I was born and grew up there, but I see there is a real need to rescue the community from the moral decline.

To Sharpes’ youth, there is hope. The use of guns and violence is

NOT the answer. Cease jeopardizing your own lives and the lives of your families and friends! Think soberly and wisely before you act. Preserve yourselves and save your community. You can do it with God’s help. May God have mercy upon the Community!

Ann-Marie Ballantyne