RISE Saint Lucia Inc Chairman Dr. Venus Cherry has indicated that criminal elements are reaching out to groom troubled young men who are experiencing problems in the home.
However, he stated that the not-for-profit NGO is trying to prevent that.
Cherry’s organisation runs conflict resolution and support programmes for young people and has so far reached out to over 30 schools.
On Thursday night, during the Choice Television Programme ‘Police Insight, he disclosed that many troubled young people are going through much at home.
The RISE Saint Lucia Chairman mentioned physical, sexual and mental abuse, and bullying.
“You can’t scream and shout at a child every day and tell them: ‘ You’re dumb, you’ll never learn anything’. You can’t not feed a child and expect them to have the energy to learn. You can’t sexually abuse a young lady – every night she is home, she knows she has to prepare herself. She’s not going to get much sleep – she has to defend herself,” Cherry stated.
“These young ladies are broken,” Cherry lamented.
And he disclosed that most times, the parents are aware of what’s happening but don’t say anything.
He said when the abused females decide they have had enough and run away, people blame them and say all sorts of things about them.
“When a young man decides he has had enough and he can no longer be home and he goes on the street, we say ‘They just want to be criminals,’” Cherry asserted.
He explained that a big issue for most of the students RISE has encountered is that they get labelled quickly, and no one listens to them to hear their story, including why they react in the way they do.
“There has to be a time when you can nicely pull that child aside and just have a conversation. They might be reluctant at first, but you would be surprised how they open up and the tears will come out and they will tell you everything they are going through,” Cherry told Police Insight.
“Not only do we not listen to them, the criminal minds now – the gang leaders and those bosses, they have the time and that’s the new recruiting strategy. They will listen and then they’ll be ‘We got you – we’ll take care of you. Come and check us’. And they’ll start small – like give them a little money to go to school, they might give them a pair of shoes,” he expressed.
But he noted that eventually, none of those gifts were free, and the youngsters would have to pay.
According to the RISE Chairman, that’s how the initiation begins.
However, he revealed that’s where his organisation’s programme comes in.
“We wanted to attack those students before the gang members attack them. We’re trying to recruit them, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to make them become volunteers at RISE. We’re trying to help them write up their resumes, the importance of jobs, grooming,” Cherry declared.
He said it was his organisation’s way of trying to fight crime.
At the same time, Cherry explained that the national anti-crime strategy could not be implemented piecemeal but in a coordinated and holistic way.