Make Education A Deterrent To Gangster Lifestyle — ACP Powell

Armed with knowl­edge that high-school stu­dents are tar­gets for recruit­ment into crim­i­nal gangs, head of the Criminal Investigation Branch, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Ealan Powell, has said that the prob­lem must be con­front­ed head-on by pri­ori­tis­ing education.

He said that devel­op­ing strong lead­er­ship at all lev­els of soci­ety is need­ed to bring the nefar­i­ous prac­tice to an abrupt end.

Powell was respond­ing to yes­ter­day’s Gleaner lead sto­ry titled ‘Shotta stu­dents’, which pur­ports that gangs are tar­get­ing high schools to recruit the next gen­er­a­tion of killers.

It is clear that we are in a seri­ous bat­tle to save our young peo­ple, our boys, in par­tic­u­lar. I think it is a seri­ous sit­u­a­tion when gangs are able to recruit direct­ly from the schools and I also believe that strong lead­er­ship at all lev­els and mak­ing edu­ca­tion a real pri­or­i­ty may be the only way to put an end to this,” he stated.

Powell said that a fail­ure to denounce cer­tain aspects of our cul­ture could result in gangs hav­ing a stran­gle­hold on the nation’s chil­dren, many of whom have been hijacked by a cul­ture of guns and gangsterism.

Everywhere you look, there are stu­dents with flashy, name-brand clothes and expen­sive gad­gets, yet they don’t have books. Certainly, that tells us that the pri­or­i­ty is not edu­ca­tion,” Powell said.

The gang recruit­ment in our schools is a real and present con­cern for us, and if we fail to arrest the prob­lem now, then we will be in for a real­ly bleak future,” he warned.

Children bombarded with sexuality, gun talk’

Assistant Commissioner of Police Ealan Powell said that the anti-gang leg­is­la­tion was in place and that it would take care of those found to be behind the recruit­ing of students.

Gone are the days when role mod­els in the com­mu­ni­ty were decent pas­tors, police­men and women, and the post­mistress­es. Today, our chil­dren are being bom­bard­ed with sex­u­al­ly explic­it infor­ma­tion and gun talk that is no good for them,” stat­ed Powell.

We will have to use struc­tures, such as the police youth clubs and prop­er par­ent­ing, which will help a lot. Parents should exer­cise bet­ter con­trol. Add to that the propen­si­ty to invest in mate­r­i­al things and you will find why we are in the posi­tion we find our­selves,” Powell added.

Meanwhile, Everton Hannam, pres­i­dent of the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica, agrees that the focus must be on the pri­ori­tis­ing of education.

Students being recruit­ed into crim­i­nal gangs are a reflec­tion of the soci­ety, Hannam told The Gleaner. He said that the phe­nom­e­non must not be viewed as an iso­lat­ed activ­i­ty, but one that has con­nec­tions to the com­mu­ni­ty and parenting.

We have to first find where along the line these chil­dren were mor­phed into what we are now call­ing them — ‘shot­ta’ stu­dents — and to see how best we can approach it. There has to be a col­lec­tive approach, start­ing with vital edu­ca­tion of our chil­dren,” Hannam said.