Reports reaching us tell of situations where mothers routinely turn a blind eye to some of the petty thievery done by both their sons and daughters as they do what they can to help supplement household income.
These children are definitely at-risk of morphing into this society’s next generation of thieves, cut-throats and gangsters.
There are times when such a process can and should be nipped in the bud; thus the focus on finding ways and means of dealing with this troubled demographic.
That some of these men and women might have gone on to make more productive contributions to the development of this society is evident to many right-thinking Bahamians.
We live in a time and in a place where all hands are needed on deck; so that each and every Bahamian can make the contribution they can and should be allowed to help steady things.
From where we view the passing scene, the time is now for the current administration, civil society, business and other social partners to be up and doing as regards bringing much needed relief to youth at risk in today’s Bahamas.
While – in theory – it is the shared responsibility of the family, the church, civil society and schools to offer our youth firm guidance and opportunities for growth, personal fulfillment and the appropriate socialization, the fact remains that these institutions do – on occasion- fail.
When these social institutions either falter or fail, numbers of children are invariably left in the full glare of society as the label “at-risk” is affixed.
Of particular concern to us would be at-risk boys and girls who live in any number of this nation’s heartland communities or who live on some of our more ‘remote’ Family Islands.
Clearly, this is a most serious tragedy for the Bahamas in its entirety.
Such a venture at the level of a pilot project, no less might entail cooperation between the College of The Bahamas, the Department of Education, Social Services, The Police [especially those involved with Urban Renewal]and selected partners in Civil Society.
That we live in a society where child abuse has become endemic is today one of those sad but true facts of life in a Bahamas where some of the weakest are routinely treated to a porridge of abuse.
Sadder still, very many parents – male and female alike – have absolutely no problem with having their children subjected to an unending stream of verbal abuse; barrages of pummeling and on occasion, these parents are the angry ones armed with the whip that stings.
There are all those other instances where some of our youth are subjected to a virulently nasty kind of sexual abuse; with the girl-child as its preferred target.
Indeed, there always remains the lash and pain that come whenever poverty is on the prowl as in this time of Recession when the cost of living is rising and as this nation’s misery index soars.
It is as true today as it has ever been that an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.
This thought today comes to mind as we reflect on the fact that tens of millions of dollars have been borrowed to help expand the array of services that can be delivered by The Princess Margaret Hospital.
While this is good enough [and perhaps long overdue]; we would have been happier had some of the borrowed resources been ear-marked to fund projects aimed at prevention.
But even as some of our people suffer, very many of them – especially some of our nation’s women – find themselves turning to this or that pastor for some help.
Regrettably, some of these people are being told that they should pray harder, pray longer and dig deeper to make a love-offering to that pastor or that Church-related enterprise.
At the same time, some of these people are mothers to children who –on occasion- are obliged to go to school hungry; some others are so messed up that they do not ever get to see the open door of any classroom.
And yet again, there is that untold number of College of The Bahamas students who are obliged to put in up to forty hours of work as so-called ‘temps’ in this or that business establishment.
Clearly, these youth are also facing their own uniquely troubling set of challenges; which suggests that they too may be at-risk.
In the ultimate analysis, we should all be up and doing to help them as they struggle to get up from under.