Look beyond the deadly outcomes, DSP Grant urges

Staff reporter

Sunday, May 27, 2018

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Likening to an iceberg the alarming statistics on social ills such as murders, robberies, shootings and other areas the police refer to as major crime, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Novelette Grant is urging that the growth of “non-criminal” and “non-physical” behaviours that are triggers should be stymied from early to stop the cycle.

“There is [a] longstanding problem that I believe is creating its unique humanitarian crisis in Jamaica. I am speaking about the scourge of violence, interpersonal violence that plagues the society. The full extent of this crisis may not be fully [understood] because many of us only focus on the deadly outcome of violence,” she told a fundraising banquet hosted by the Manchester branch of the Red Cross Society recently.

“If you think about an iceberg you would recognise that two thirds lie beneath the surface of the sea or the ocean. If you think about violence as that which is above the water line, [it] is the part that we readily see comes on the nightly news and that we talk about,” Grant continued.

She said that most times abusive words, neglect, isolation, deprivation and other psychological and emotional harm are not given priority compared to physical wounds or deaths, but if left unattended those behaviours can have detrimental impact.

“Sadly, too many of our citizens, especially our children, have to live and cope with shame and humiliation. Some lack the necessary support or personal resilience and so they fall prey to the violence of self-harm. Many of us can recall and agree that from our own experiences that words are often the most pervasive and long lasting destructive form of violence experienced by many of us. The cruelty of words batters down the psyche and the self-esteem, it destroys identity, it belittles and it kills dreams. The result is often people who have little or no experience with affection, affirmation, and so they grow to casually dish out hate, coldness, feeling disconnected from everybody around them, and unfortunately develop a total lack of empathy for their fellow human beings,” said the outgoing DSP.

She said that for far too long key places of socialisation such as the home, church and school that should protect children are coming up short and compounded with the pressures that come with adolescence that is the start of a downward spiral for some youth.

“We have a situation in Jamaica akin to armed conflict, akin to a battlefield-created humanitarian crisis. Our battlefields of violence exist in homes, communities, institutions, ” she said.

Grant said that parenting styles such as being too permissive present in the same house but absent in the children's lives and being too strict can all have negative consequences.

She charged the audience at the Red Cross function to make the positive work that they do more visible, including on social media platforms, because the information that youth are bombarded with on a daily basis is not often ones intended to keep them on the right path.

Reaching children positively, she said, is to ensure through the collaborative effort of healthy family lives and other groups that they have a memory of kindness.

Emphasising the reality of some children and how important interventions are, Grant said that as a police officer she has seen and heard cases where children feel compelled to provide support in domestic issues with adults, are given illegal weapons by parents and other adults, forced into a life of crime by those who should be a positive influence, or being in an environment where a parent would readily give up having them in their care to accommodate an intimate partner.

She said that one should never seek to simplify the stress and pressures a child may be undergoing, and adults should never be too preoccupied with their own challenges to be available to offer guidance or just give a listening ear.

Like the Red Cross movement, Grant said to address the issues of crime and violence in Jamaica requires an attitude of response and providing relief, noting that it must be done in a proactive way.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, the smallest act of caring, all of which have the power and the potential to turn a life around,” she said.

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