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Commentary: When your neighbour's house is on fire!
Published on August 24, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Neals Chitan

Growing up as young boys in Grenada, our juvenile lives were guided by a litany of colourful and poignant figurative warnings frequently given to us by our parents and the older folks of our neighbourhood.

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
Still lodged in my mind today and frequently repeated is “When your neighbour’s house is on fire, wet yours” This is meant to be a serious proactive warning to individuals who are poised to experience a similar tragedy of a friend, to take steps to avoid their eminent fate.

In the Caribbean News Now article “Murder rate unacceptable, says Trinidad Chamber” on August 21, 2013, we see the destructive sociopathic flames of crime igniting the beloved twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago into an inferno of ghastly and horrifying, criminal acts, thus creating a national state of despair.

As stated in the article, "Our murder toll for the year now stands at an unacceptable 240 persons killed. The four murders that occurred within a 24-hour period on Wednesday, follows on the heels of another ‘bloody’ 30-hour period just two weekends ago, where we saw seven murders occurring during that time."

Wow! Two hundred and forty! In many smaller Caribbean islands this can be considered a complete village. Could you imagine? A complete village already wiped out by August, with four more months to go!

Victoria Ptashnick, in her column in the Toronto Sun newspaper on August 17, 2012, compared the year to date crime rate of Toronto and Chicago. “The Windy City” of Chicago with an urban land mass of 5,498 sq kms and a population of 2.7 million, on August 17, 2012, recorded 313 murders.

As reported by Ptashnick, on that same date in 2012, the City of Toronto with an urban land mass of 5,905 sq kms and a population of 2.6 million recorded only 33 murders.

Adding Trinidad andTobago and Jamaica in this comparative mix, we see that within a same eight months period, although one year later, August 21, 2013, the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, with a land mass of 5,130 sq kms, a comparative size to the two aforementioned North American cities and less than half the size of Jamaica, with a population of 1.2 million people, recorded 240 murders as stated by Trinidad Chamber.

According to Paul Henry of the Jamaica Observer on August 16, 2012, Jamaica, with a land mass of 10,991 sq kms and a population of 2.7 million, recorded a disturbing 643 murders from January to the end of July 2012.

There is no doubt that the houses of our “Big Island” neighbours to the north and to the south are very much ablaze with exponentially unmatched crime and violence, while blowing their lighted embers over the whole Caribbean.

This is where the urgent warning “wet yours” becomes relevant to the surrounding Caribbean islands. Whichever category you fall in, whether Windward Islands in the south to the Greater Antilles in the north, I suggest to ‘wet yours.” Study and learn from the experiences of these islands engulfed in crime and violence and become proactive.

The intent of my July 27, 2013, article “Social antidotes identified to fight crime” published by Caribbean News Now and, was meant to offer the Caribbean a proactive systematic method of crime reduction and, by the way, I refer you to it again.

As I have advised over and over again, greater budgetary allocations for enforcement on a national and local level is good, but is only reactionary. The fire is already blazing and consuming everything in its path. Enforcement is only a method to contain it and stop it from doing more damage.

What Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, North America and all the other Caribbean islands need is a social empowerment multi-modal educational approach that will look at the real root causes of crime and violence and deliver a preventive strategy to children, youth and adults helping them to deal with these roots in a systematic manner, thereby “wetting your house” so that your neighbours fire will not destroy yours.

I am so excited to advise that Motiv-8 For Change International has the copyrighted material needed to accomplish a well rounded crime reduction strategy. Why not explore it?
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