Campaigners and schoolboys joined forces yesterday for a march designed to get men to play a bigger part in children’s lives.
About 150 men and boys took part in the Men are Needed event in Hamilton.
Desmond Crockwell, an anti-violence campaigner who organised the event, said that families, counsellors and men from the Pembroke area who did not have children joined in on the march.
He added the turnout underlined that the public understood the importance of a male role model in children’s lives.
Bayon Robinson, 40, said that he joined the march to support Mr Crockwell, a relative and a friend.
He added: “A lot of these teens don’t have a man that they can go to for help, even if it’s just an uncle or a cousin or a grandfather.
“That’s the time where we lose a lot of the next generation because nobody really shows them how to make that next step into adulthood.”
Mr Robinson, from Smiths, said he tried to set an example to his 16-year-old son and young relatives.
He explained it was his responsibility to remind them to make their own paths in life.
Mr Robinson said that he was inspired by his father, who taught him about hard work, respect and manners. He added it was his duty to teach his own son the same lessons.
Mr Robinson said: “I have to transition him from a teenager to a man, which means I also have to teach him about responsibility.”
Mr Crockwell said that there was a larger turnout than expected despite the absence of Dellwood Middle School, which withdrew from the event.
He added: “But we thought it was excellent — it was more than what we thought.”
Pupils and teachers from the Whitney Institute Middle School and the Bermuda Centre for Creative Learning took part in the event.
Sergio Pitcher, the founder of maths tutoring service Planet Math, said that he joined the march to demonstrate the importance of a man in a child’s life.
He explained that he had mentored a troubled child who might have ended up in prison if he had not taken an interest.
Mr Pitcher said: “He tells me all the time ‘had you not been there to help me, I don’t know where I’d be today’.”
Mr Pitcher said the most important lesson for boys was the need to accept responsibility.
He added that becoming a role model for children required diligence, hard work and patience.
But Mr Pitcher said that the impact a good role model could have was tremendous.
He added: “The more interest that a man puts in a young boy’s life, the more you see them gravitating towards doing what’s right, even if it’s hard for them.
“It’s never easy — it takes hard work and you’re going to have setbacks — but if you keep working hard, you’ll achieve what you’re trying to do.”
The march was led by a truck full of young drummers along Angle Street, Court Street and Dundonald Street in Hamilton and ended with a rally in Victoria Park.
Wayne Caines, the national security minister, told the rally that the just-announced drop in gun crime was due, in part, to efforts to keep young boys on the straight and narrow.
He added: “What makes me most happy about having no gun-related murders is that we have families that are not grieving at the start of the year.
“This is about our community trying to do better and be better, and I believe that we’re going in the right direction.”
Mr Caines said: “We can’t rest and we can’t sleep. There are too many miles to go before we can end the work that we’re doing.”