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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 29, 2022


Why are our boys killing each other? This question goes to the very soul of our islands. The answer is out there, as answers always are. The question that seems to have no answer for us is when are we going to do what it takes to reduce our youth violence. How many more of our young boys will die horribly violent deaths before we say "Enough is enough", and do something.
Before you correct me, let me say it is my intention to say "young boys"; you may call the early twenties age of these boys at the time of their death young men if you so choose, but I want to consider them boys, as they will always remain young in the minds of the ever crying mothers. These boys will never grow old in their memories; nor will they give their families the pleasure of seeing them graduate from whatever, produce grandchildren or do anything to make their parents happy again, ever………In their memories, I ask that all of us make their deaths their contribution and do something to change our young boys before we lose more.
The last Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that 12.4% of the boys and 4.3% of the girls had brought a weapon to school within the 30 days before the survey was taken in our local schools. This represents an average of 8.3% of all public school students. While this is not significantly different than the national average, it is still is a problem.
What is scary is what this percentage represents in terms of actual numbers. It literally means that on any given day in our public schools about 1,743 children sitting in our classrooms, walking around the school grounds or going to or leaving school have a weapon in their possession. They define a weapon as a gun, knife, or club. We all know that can happen.
Think about this for one moment; are you comfortable in your home or office knowing that these kids are in school with yours? Would you want to be a teacher, particularly when it comes to administering discipline, in a classroom setting where you know kids have life threatening weapons concealed on their persons? I know I would not be comfortable and if anyone out there says it wouldn’t bother them, I would say that is what they today call a "misstatement" and we call an "untruth" (rather than a bold face lie).
If you take this information as accurate, you will clearly see why it is so easy when an argument starts among our boys it so often results in death instead of a "chop on the head". We have got to find a way to stop it.
I don’t believe that metal detectors, searches, more police, etc. will stop it. It can reduce it, but not stop it. I don’t think it will stop until two things occur: (1) Kids feel safe when they leave their house to go to school (Like you and I did when we went to school years ago and all over for that matter.); and (2) Kids clearly are educated to understand and subscribe to the principle that disputes can be settled without violence and live within supportive healthy families.
Perhaps, in addition to the many anti-violence initiatives that stop and start periodically in the Virgin Islands we need to find a long-lasting solution. Perhaps we can take a look at some of these resources:
▸ 100 Black Men of America, which was founded in 1986 in Atlanta to, among other things, raise community consciousness of the impact of violence in the African American community. Information can be found at http://100bm.org/aboutview.htm
▸ Buy a book I just heard of (I plan to order it) called LOST BOYS: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them. A review states that the book explains "how boys become vulnerable and what parents, teachers and communities can do about it."
▸ Look on the Internet at short summaries of many of the successful programs developed across the Nation to answer the question of how to prevent youth violence.
▸ Join an organization or activity that provides positive support to young boys and their families. Make a difference!
▸ Look at how we raise our boys in the Virgin Islands versus how we raise our girls. Are we raising them similarly, or do we treat them more indulgently or don’t give them responsibilities when they are young (Notice how traditionally many girls have to supplement their mother’s responsibilities at home after school, e.g., start dinner, take home the smaller ones, etc., while many of our boys are allowed to hang?)
Dr. William Pollack, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School, in an article in the Chicago Tribune, talks about the way many parents allow girls to express their feelings, but encourage their sons to be tough. His research shows that this can be a factor in male youth violence. He, along with other psychologists, pressed for big changes in the way how parents and educators treat boys. A quote that haunts me in the article is where he says "For some boys who are not allowed tears, they will cry with their fists or they will cry with bullets," added Pollack. We need to take heed of this.
Editor’s note: Catherine Lockhart Mills of St. Thomas, a former Human Services commissioner, holds a master’s degree in social work and is a regular columnist. You can send comments to her on the articles she writes or topics you would like her to address at AH HREF="source@viaccess.net"> source@viaccess.net.

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