Say No To Gang Violence
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
July 12, 2012 (SKNIS)
Criminologist and Professor at the American University in Washington D.C. Edward R. Maguire Ph.D. has encouraged persons in the community to accept and embrace their responsibility in ongoing efforts to reduce gang activity in St. Kitts and Nevis.
During an interview with SKNIS, Dr. Maguire drew on his vast knowledge and experience to highlight a problem that he observed in various countries he has worked with.
“In too many communities that have gang violence problems, it is not considered a community issue,” he stated, adding that some persons seem more concerned with pointing fingers rather than developing solutions.
Dr. Maguire recounted an experience in an unnamed country where he attempted to engage members of the faith-based community “to determine what they can do to try to help out with this gang violence problem.”
“What they kept telling me is it’s a police problem and I kept saying no it’s a community problem,” he said. Eventually, one priest heeded the call and reached out to the gang members. After productive sessions, he was able to convince other faith leaders to join in engaging the youth.
“That’s the kind of work that needs to be done,” the criminologist emphasized. “This is not a government problem. This is not a police problem. This is a community problem and every aspect of the community needs to come together to address it.”
Professor Maguire, who chairs the Department of Justice, Law and Society at American University, visited St. Kitts and Nevis from July 1 to 5, to conduct a Rapid Assessment on gang related activity. While here, he interacted with officials in the criminal justice system, gang members and community officials.
He shared some advice on the role that ordinary citizens can play.
“If you see a young man engaged in behaviour you believe is inappropriate, and you feel safe doing so, engage with that young man, mentor that young man, advise that young man, teach that young man, love that young man … ,” the professor said. “Don’t make it somebody else’s problem, make it your problem. We can solve gang violence one young man at a time …”