Exposure to Violence in our Community

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    Tarik McMillan

    A few days ago I spoke to a 3rd grader about their weekend and how things were at home. The child said that they were really excited to finally be moving out of their neighborhood. I assumed that the child was happy to move because of damages to their home caused by the hurricanes. The child said that the neighborhood that they live in now has too many gunshots at night. I asked them if they get scared when they hear them. They replied “No, the shots are just annoying now.
    We have to begin conversations about the impact that being exposed to violence at a young age is having on our young children in the community. Being accustomed to the sound of gunshots is so strange. Especially at such a young age. It’s scary to imagine what a generation of Virgin Islanders being accustomed to death and violence grows up to be like. How do they process emotions? Do they feel safe? Do they want to call this place “home” when their childhood is tainted with so much violence?

    George Armstrong

    Very interesting subject. From my personal experience, as I too grew up in a neighborhood where gunshots at night had become a norm. Being awakened in the middle of the night from the loud sounds of bullets leaving a firearm can be very traumatizing. I’ll never forget this one time, there was a shooting and for hours police and ambulances were outside because a group of people died. The colors: blue, white and red placed fear in me from such a young age. Having to wonder if my friends’ lives were affected by gun violence during that time has been outside conversations that young kids usually have, which shouldn’t be.

    I think emotionally it became normal because its something you had to get accustomed to over the time. At first, you don’t feel safe. To think that it’s possibly your neighbors or family friends that usually involved in the gun violence. Imagine having to experience living in this community all your life and your family still lives there after you finish high school. That individual may just want to explore another location to get away from what they are used to. More than likely they wont want to call this place their home. They are searching for a more positive environment for their future. Some people get caught up in the outside activities and end up getting involved in gun violence, not saying its planned but it happens. It becomes the only way to fit into their communities customs.

    How do you reassure our youths that having emotions towards whats happening in their neighborhood is okay? Not feeling safe, is a conversation they can’t normally have with their parents. Especially if they cant afford to change their living environment. Due to financial burdens, some families have no other options even though that doesn’t give them an excuse to get out.


    How does the pubic safety system not know who the perpetrators are of this gun violence, and if it knows and chooses not to do something about it, some folk are really dissing their community.

    We live on islands. You don’t just drive down a highway to move between communities. Gunns have to be brought in, probably by boat rather than airplane as TSA and Customs at the airports would probably make it difficult to bring unregistered guns in by airplane.

    Is it that we need more active patrolling of entry points, the unorthodox entry ones that is?

    Lots of drugs and contraband make their way into our communities, probably not through the conventional ports. It would be foolish to think guns are not imported through these non traditional points of entry as well. And, there is probably a real connection between the drug traffic and illegal gun presence.

    Granted the police can’t be everywhere but police forces usually rely on residents and yes informer to keep individuals on top of what’s happening within the community. These are small islands where there is at most two or three degrees of separation among most individuals.

    Individual police officers can be compromised but in a relatively small police force you would think senior management has some knowledge of who the weak players are. Or, does management turn a blind eye? The fact that we as a community fail to call this out makes us all complicit. And, in that case we deserve what we have.

    Courtesy of a union contract, every two years the government purchases brand new vehicles for the police force. Less money should be spent on this and other extravagance and those dollars directed to funding water, community and DEA supported patrols.


    This only highlights a numbness to crime that sets in where and when crime is prevalent with no or low detection. Several Caribbean countries are experiencing similar patterns; much to the frustration s of the populations involved, and in the face of impotent political regimes, made up of tough takers at election time but incompetent clueless empty suits once they assume office.

    It goes to the root of all the things that are wrong with Caribbean politics; the failure to properly unite, integrate and offer meaningful engagement to the over-40-million citizens, the failure to take away the guns from youths who feel that owning a firearm validates them in one way or the other etc etc.

    If the Caribbean had leadership bold enough to chat a new course of integration and creativity, that could make this region the envy of all regions. Imagine Haiti’s position of poverty and squalor, when it ought to be a jewel of the Caribbean. That is the result of weak and aimless leadership.

    Lawlessness will always flourish under such conditions. There is a causal link to our crime issues and lacking leadership..

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