No one is safe unless everyone is safe. Ten lives have been lost to senseless bloodshed during the first eleven days of 2024, leaving families mourning for their loved ones. The harsh reality is that it could easily have been any one of us left breathless – a casualty of war, as bullets do not have GPS and these incidents are taking place in public spaces, at times when everyday citizens are out and about.
These brazen acts have tragically claimed the lives of a teenage girl, a grandmother, a young woman and numerous fathers, sons, and brothers. The additional reports of a teenager sustaining stab wounds and a two-year-old child suffering a gunshot injury are deeply troubling and indicative of a broader social crisis. We are all at risk.
While reactive measures are essential in the short term to address the current spike in criminal activities, it is imperative that we adopt a more proactive approach to prevent such tragedies in the future.
A key component of our response must be to implement effective mediation strategies and public education campaigns. These initiatives should focus on conflict resolution, promoting a culture of peace and understanding, and educating citizens and residents on the importance of community involvement in crime prevention and reporting.
Empowering local communities to be vigilant and involved in safeguarding their own neighborhoods by providing the funding, tools, and support system neighborhood watch programs require is a critical step toward enhancing safety and security. Furthermore, we must expand and intensify our community policing efforts. The police force should not only be seen as enforcers of the law but as integral members of the community, working in partnership with residents to deter crime.
We need to get back to basics and be intentional about instilling traditional values of responsibility, respect, and civic duty in our young people. Therefore, the government should increase budgetary support for NGOs and organizations that provide positive extracurricular activities and skills training so Bahamian young people can access more opportunities that steer them away from the path of crime. Such investments reap lasting rewards.
A comprehensive and multifaceted approach to crime prevention is urgently needed. While immediate reactive measures are necessary to treat the symptoms, we must not lose sight of the importance of proactive strategies that address the root causes of crime and create a safer, more peaceful society for all Bahamians, especially our children. Let me repeat, no one is safe unless everyone is safe.
Written By: Senator Maxine Seymour, Shadow Minister for Social Services