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Commentary: Jamaica the trend setter
Published on April 29, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Neals J. Chitan

As the largest of the English-speaking island nations of the Caribbean, Jamaica has historically been a leader and trend setter to the smaller islands, and what a trend to set this time!

Neals J. Chitan is the Grenadian-born president of Motiv-8 For Change International -- a Toronto based High Impact Social Skill Agency that is specially dedicated to the social empowerment of individuals, families and communities
JIS reporter Garfield L. Angus in his recent article “Crime trending down in Jamaica” published on April 22, 2014, released the good news that the Honourable Peter Bunting, Minister of National Security has reported that there is a downward trend in murders and other crimes in Jamaica.

The minister reported that, by the end of the first quarter of 2014, Jamaica had seen a 12% drop in murder and 13% drop in other crimes. As a social skill consultant who has dedicated my life to crime reduction, this news got me so excited that as I read the article I had to stop and exclaim, “Go Jamaica, Go!” However, to keep the trend going steadily downward, will take a highly synchronize sustainable strategic plan.

Of the several reasons that Minister Bunting has identified as contributing factors for this decline in crime were; increased police crime control operations, community engagement and church participation. Of course, it’s only when the long rough arms of law enforcement embrace the tender caring and life-changing programs of community and faith agencies will lasting change occur.

Over the past weeks I have become acquainted with Jamaican clergyman Pastor Greg Baldeo of the Mandeville SDA Church. I had heard of his passion and fervour for his community and the impact his church has made in encouraging and influencing a crime free community. Pastor Baldeo has not only been instrumental in hosting prayer vigils for his community but has also led out in anti-violence/crime marches, appealing to neighbourhoods to “Love your Neighbour as Yourself” and “Stop the Killing.”

Baldeo has not only talked the talk, but he has walked the walk, teaming up and consulting with; the previously mentioned Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, Her Worship Mayor Brenda Ramsay and Councillor Caretaker of Mandeville and Speaker of the House of Representatives of Jamaica, Mr Michael Peart to help devise strategies and programs to bring hope and positively impact the social landscape of Jamaica.

Could you imagine what could happen if all houses of faith in the Jamaica will follow this trend set by Pastor Baldeo. Could you imagine the powerful impact on society if pastors will get off their rostrums, roll up their sleeves and follow the example of the one of whom they preach?

In my professional life I have seen the impact of a caring clergy on the lives of young men and women. I have heard a pastor saying to a rather obstinate young man that he should relax and listen to his words now while he can hear, because if he continues in his lifestyle, there will come a day when he the pastor will speak about him, but the young man wouldn’t hear a thing. Oh my goodness! Did it ever wake him up and change his path!

That’s what our 21st century youth need. Folks who would care for them enough to sift through their rudeness and attitudes and tell them the truth, while forming a trusting relationship with them.

And so, I applaud Jamaica for 12-13% reduction in their murder and crime rate. I commend Minister Bunting and the Jamaica Constabulary Force on their new strategies and approach to crime prevention. However, I also applaud the community agencies and faith community partners who have decided to get off behind closed doors and impact their communities bringing hope and empowerment, vital keys in crime reduction.

Again I say, “Go Jamaica! Keep the downward trend going.”
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