For the past few months, many individuals have been ranting on and on about how we need to do something with the high level of crime in this country. A Crime Commission has been formed and the talks have ensued. Since the formation of this commission, at least three public incidences of violent crime have occurred on public school campuses; and there have been numerous accounts of other violent acts against person and property.
I do not know how far the Crime Commission has gotten in its deliberations or from which angle it will pursue its investigations; but like many Bahamians I am waiting with abated breath…I think not!
At the end of the day the root of the problem will be found in the home or the lack thereof. Societies are made up of many diverse families and it is in each family that the responsibility must be placed with regards to “fixing” the social ills that now exist.
In order for us to get a better appreciation of how important a point this is, perhaps we ought to examine what and who is family in this country. While the Catholic Church and perhaps other Christian denominations define a family as a married man and woman and their children, the fact of the matter is that the majority of households in The Bahamas do not fit this definition or description. However, while this may be so, all parents must be made accountable and mandated to fulfill their duties and responsibilities as parents.
I challenge you legislators to do what you need to do in terms of making parents more accountable for their children. Stop looking for ways to get re-elected to the House of Assembly. Proactive measures need to be put in place to ensure that we do not continue this vicious cycle of breeding without consequence.
We don’t need a commission on crime to tell us what we already know. What we need is a government with leaders who are not afraid to give the country what it needs and not what it wants. We need you to dig up not just the infested plants, but remove the soil as well.
The evidence is very clear, especially in terms of who is leading the households and what is happening in these homes. Even though many of the households in this country are not led by married men and women, there was a time in our history when this was the norm. From 1967 to 1975, the majority of children in The Bahamas were born to married couples; however since 1976 the number of children born to unmarried women has climbed steadily.
In 1967, there were 70.4% legitimate births, versus 45% in 1976. In fact, the majority of these children were born to single mothers between the ages of 15 and 24. An even more startling fact is that from 1970 to 1997 almost 30% of these children were born to single teenagers (Dept. of Statistics).
Coupled with the fact that most children are born to young single women, many of these same children must be raised in homes where the single mother has to leave home to work. This then means that many children are raised by a surrogate parent, and in many instances it’s the television or some other electronic device who assumes the role of parent or guardian.
Statistics further reveal that in 2005, 28% of the households in The Bahamas were headed by single women and 53% were headed by married or common law couples. The mere fact that the department of statistics grouped common law marriages with legally married couples says something very negative about how we view family life in this country.
In addition to the increase in illegitimate births, post 1976 saw a mark increase in reported crime as well as divorces. When I saw these statistics I couldn’t help but wonder what began to happen in this country at that time. After speaking with people older than myself who could offer more fluid recollections of the 1970s, it was concluded that the thing that happened to us was PROSPERTY.
While the economy was in a downward turn in the mid 70’s, by 1976/1977 the drug trade began to take shape and The Bahamas began a feasting that lasted about 10 years. What we have now is the effects of this decade of gorging. Ultimately the greatest adverse effect was the destruction of the family. Now we are crying out for someone to solve all of our social ills.
Cry as you might, but it will not happen overnight. No one crime commission is going to change what has been building for three decades. The destruction of this country and its communities is our fault and we are now reaping what we sowed.
Stop blaming the Haitians, Jamaicans or whomever. Stop blaming the young people of this society. All of you who enjoyed the money when it was flowing freely and didn’t give a second thought about turning a blind eye for a few seconds to earn $10,000.00 are now reaping what you sowed.
And what you have sown is a society of ill-bred human beings with no moral compass and no respect for human life. What you have sown is a society that seeks to take and has no concept of giving. What you have sown is a society that wants for everything but asks for nothing. What you have sown my people are the seeds that have marred and disfigured the soul of this great Bahamaland.
About the author:
Joye Ritchie-Greene is an Educational Consultant, Writer and Martial Arts Instructor. She is the owner/operator of The Bahamas Martial Arts Academy; president of Time-Out Productions; and is also a columnist for the Freeport News. She has a B.A. in English and an M.S. in Human Resources, resides in Freeport, Grand Bahama with her husband and enjoys playing tennis. Joye can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org