Trinidad Express:– Crime has become so commonplace in the country it is somewhat accepted says Ambassador of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago Aad Biesebroek.
Speaking at the launch of the ‘Life After Today’ initiative at the San Fernando West Secondary School on Tuesday, Biesebroek said more needs to be done to steer youths that might be going down the wrong path to a better place.
Biesebroek held up a copy of one of the daily newspapers and shuddered at some of the news headlines.
“Shot after shot – family of three shot dead in van.”
“Boy, 14, shot dead in liquor store.”
“Suspect killed in shootout with cops.”
“1 dead, 4 hurt in Morvant shooting.”
He said: “I think what we are looking at is a situation whereby violence has become the norm. Where it is almost accepted. We try to reach out to young people and tell them there are different ways in how you deal with conflict and how you interact with people.”
Biesebroek said it was important for young people to know they have control and can walk away from violence.
“They need to know they have better options to plan for their future,” he said.
Through the art of music, dance, poetry, and song, the ‘Life After Today’ initiative aims to spread positive messages and to help youths to make better decisions.
Principal of San Fernando West Secondary School Ronald Mootoo said, “Since 2010, the European Union has been supporting the government of Trinidad and Tobago through various regional programmes, in particular, supporting and strengthening of regional security agencies and drug demand reduction strategies and programmes. This particular outreach campaign, “Life After Today”, was developed by Reputation Management Caribbean and is aimed at mitigating against crime and violence by working with young persons between 5-19 years old by stoking a desire to pursue positive lifestyles instead of succumbing to a vicious cycle that is perpetuated by a life of crime and violence.”
Biesebroek says finding ways to reach at risk and troubled youths and placing them on a more productive path is a step in the right direction.
What we try to do is on a small scale. Ultimately, I think it is really up to the government to determine how they want to deal with issues such as criminality, and difficult situations in terms of education. Schools need support and they need to engage with the schools and see how they take it forward, he said.
Biesebroek is scheduled to visit other schools across Trinidad and Tobago as the Life After Today initiative continues over the course of several months heading into the July/August vacation.
His next stop is the Maloney Government Primary School on May 3, followed by Gasparillo Secondary School on September 12.