THE perpetrators of crimes are getting younger. I imagine that a few of them probably sit in the classroom with some of our own – that God forbid, their victims might be our own.
I know for sure I don’t want to be standing outside any church waiting for the casket of a family member or friend to be rolled in. If I never had to experience something like that again, it would still be too soon.
I lost a friend to gun violence in 2013. She was 22. Her life was punctuated by a bullet. Krystal, as she was known, was killed after a boat cruise. It was a case of wrong place, wrong time. At her funeral, I was dressed from head to toe in purple and pink, a send-off my friends and I wanted to believe matched her vivaciousness. As for the shooting, we never really spoke about the details – whether she died on the spot or on her way to hospital. If she suffered…
Versions of that story differ, but one thing I know for certain is that my friend fought for dear life, lying on mossy concrete, covered in her own blood.
Our young people deserve better. I wonder how many parents, guardians or even siblings fear getting that distressing phone call on the most unexpected of days. Not just that, but I wonder about the parents trying to figure out how to get their young ones off that crooked path. Neither jail, nor a tomb is the fate any individual would want for a loved one.
Steadily the figures mount up. Robberies, rape… murder. It’s the same vicious plague faced by any developing nation, but what exactly is the remedy?
Inequality doesn’t help, and surely crime can only be curbed with a robust justice system. We can only see change if the ones charged with responsibility to protect and serve wear their hats with pride and fight along with the rest of us. Mostly, we really just need to toss away the bad apples once and for all.
A sustainable reduction in crime will only come if we stop protecting the people who commit the worst offenses against us. We need to know outcomes. When people are caught and thrown into jail for seemingly petty or serious offenses, we need to hear about it. We need to see the faces of the monsters raping our women and molesting our children especially in an era where kidnapping seems to be the new order of the day. After all these years, why have we not been able to establish a functional sex offenders registry? Why do victims receive more publicity than the men behind the guns, knives, and machetes? When we stop hiding the faces of the people who rape and murder our people, perhaps those less than human entities amongst us will comprehend that they simply cannot continue to violate us and get away with it.
Change starts with small things. In the coming weeks and months, let’s see more influencers rising up for the sake of our children. Let’s see the churches speaking out against injustice, and spreading messages of hope to a wider audience. Let us support the teachers who are at wits end, faced with the task of mothering children some of us have already given up on. Let’s make a change for those young people with hearts of gold, who continue to believe in the possibility of a boundless future, even when everything around them suggests otherwise.