Recently the police gave what should have been an alarming report for every family in Bermuda when they announced that some of our youth who are barely in their teens were gravitating towards gang activity. This would indicate that, despite efforts to stamp out what has been a nightmare for communities, we could be on course for further negative impacts unless something is done to break a cycle of growing antisocial and hostile behaviour.
No family should take that police warning lightly because good people are harmed every day around the world by people who drift inexplicably from common values of respect for others.
Our world is awash with an obsession of electronic wonders, to a point where people text, tweet and communicate via cyberspace more than having a face-to-face conversation. It is taking a heavy toll on how parents try to keep pace with what their children are thinking and doing on a daily basis.
On the surface, this may not seem important, but when the gap widens between a parent and a child, it could be the beginning of a breakdown in communication and can lead potentially to a young mind falling prey to negative distractions, including the false perception that being attached to a gang is some type of status symbol that will earn them respect in a world that operates with its own rules. Police have every right to be concerned about such a trend because when things go terribly wrong, they are the ones called.
If the gap is too wide in that important link between parent and child, danger signs in changing behaviour patterns may be missed during the crucial early stages, and both the child and the parent could be in for a rude awakening. This is happening more frequently these days, especially with so many younger people having their own means to communicate with friends who may not be a positive influence. This area gets very sensitive because many problems could be a two-way street, with both parent and child having issues when it comes to values.
There are no easy answers to reversing this trend, and the police warning should be a wake-up call for all families where children are involved. Perhaps some of the early signs of hostile behaviour may be associated with negative pressure from peers who think it is cool to challenge basic rules of life.
For instance, recently, I observed some young boys with pedal cycles whipping around a grocery store parking lot with no regard for motorists arriving and leaving the area. An official from the store cautioned them that riding in that manner was unsafe and was a danger to others in the area. It is that type of conduct by some young people that is a sign that, without a change in attitude, eventually could lead to them having to answer to the authorities.
Summer is fast approaching and there will be plenty of outdoor activity throughout much of the island, much of it involving young people with positive attitudes. However, there will also be those intent on displaying unacceptable behaviour, such as what transpired at an event for families in St David’s on Good Friday. It takes only a few disorderly people to disrupt any gathering designed to promote better harmony in our communities.
In the old days, when word reached parents that a child was disruptive and rude, there was no guessing game about what awaited them when they came home. No police or magistrate was needed after a clear message was sent; no details required that there are consequences for unruly conduct. I have heard stories of recipients of the “rod of correction” being very reluctant to sit for several days.
Much has changed since then, but our communities are still confronted with problems related to hostile conduct.
Perhaps it is time that human behaviour, which is usually taught in the home, should be included in the school curriculum. The important factor is that with the present onslaught of distractions, and with families no longer the solid units that existed generations ago, new ways must be found to preserve good values that are necessary for any society to grow with respect for doing what is right, instead of for what is popular.
Bermuda is preparing for a major international event that all of Bermuda could benefit from in a number of ways. The America’s Cup is not just another calendar event, and most Bermudians want such a global attention-getter to project our island as the place where peace and beauty are a way of life.
We as a community must remain vigilant in keeping a close watch on teaching our young people that there is reward for positive attitudes, and consequences for those who choose otherwise. We need our young people to get it right to make a positive path for Bermuda’s future.