Crime report ignored for years

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Both government members and top law
enforcement officials admitted Thursday that a 2006 report identifying the
“seeds of criminality” in the Cayman Islands has largely sat on the shelf for
the past three-and-a-half years, with little or no action taken on the
recommendations it contains.

Now, those seeds have germinated,
according to Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam.

“We are creating…marginalised and
disadvantaged children who grow up to be marginalised and disadvantaged
adults,” Mr. Adam said at the start of a two-day retreat held to study the 2006
report done by Barbadian criminologist Yolande Forde and hopefully implement
some of its recommendations. “We cannot afford to lose one more of our youth to
the streets in this small population.”

Attorney General Sam Bulgin
admitted that government had not made the recommendations contained in the
criminality report a top priority over the past few years as it struggled with
issues like a fading economy and revising Cayman’s constitutional agreement
with the United Kingdom.
Mr. Bulgin said recent law enforcement regimes here have been far too reactive.

“We have been preoccupied with how
to solve crime rather than paying attention to early intervention issues,” Mr.
Bulgin said.

The 2006 Forde report surveyed a
sample number of male prisoners at Northward and the juvenile detention
facility at Eagle House. It aimed to root out the underlying causes of criminal
behaviour in the Cayman Islands.

According to the study, some 47 per
cent of prisoners indicated they had been born to teenage mothers and many indicated
they had grown up in dysfunctional homes. Also, the study found that many had
performed poorly at school, never learning to read or write.

The report also identified a major
failing of the Cayman Islands educational
system in that it employed “social promotion” – the practice of passing students
through the grades based on age, not merit.

“These individuals would go into
the workplace and expect promotion and reward on that same basis and,
generally, that is a false expectation,” Mrs. Forde wrote in her report.

Cayman’s public education system
still practices the policy of social promotion.

A full 64 per cent of inmates
surveyed stated they had been either suspended or expelled from school; 60 per
cent said they had not graduated from high school.

Kids in the Cayman
Islands are getting into trouble at a younger age, according to
Royal Cayman Islands Police Inspector Anthony White.

“The percentage of juvenile arrests
proportionate to total arrest figures have grown,” Mr. White said Thursday
during his presentation to the retreat.

In addition, Inspector White said
offences committed by juveniles (those under 17 in Cayman
Islands law) are not longer simply just staying out late at night,
or drinking a beer before they turn 18.

These days, the four most common
offences committed by juveniles in the court system are drug-related crimes,
assaults, thefts and burglaries.

Inspector White also noted that
more than 41 per cent of the unemployed population in Cayman consists of people
who are between 15-24 years old. While he admits that’s not unusual in most
societies, that figure is of concern to Cayman.

There is hope, according to Mr.
White, who said the “80-20 rule” is still in effect for the Cayman
Islands. That means roughly 80 per cent of those children who do
come before the juvenile court system typically don’t re-offend.

“It’s the other 20 per cent we are
looking at in this retreat,” Mr. White said.

Participants in the retreat were
scheduled to meet through Friday, breaking up into five separate study groups
dealing with family, social, religious, education, and criminal justice issues.

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Participants gather for a two-day retreat at the Agape church in George Town.
Photo: Brent Fuller
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3 COMMENTS

  1. Do you mean to tell me that something that I have been saying for years because I have lived and worked and volunteered with the youth in Cayman and it was clear to even a blind man, that the government actually paid someone to tell them that, and they ignored it? I knew that was the root cause of the problem because it just boggled my mind that there were so many young men and women at Northward who could not even spell their own names. You see the mothers and fathers go to the bars every weekend and drink and party. The mothers take on men who could be their sons and the fathers the same and have relationships with them and ignore their children. This is what is happening. It was not the expats who caused all of this. It is the bad parenting that is the cause of all this strife. The politicians are helping to destroy this beautiful country by their inactivity. It is a shame. A crying shame.

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  2. How difficult would it be to contact Havana and ask the Cuban government to come to Cayman and take over police and court functions. We’d see action and results then!

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  3. The Compass should follow up on this article and ask the Minister responsible for Education why no action has been taken to look at alternatives to “social promotion” in the school systems.

    Excerpted from “Taking Responsibility for Ending Social Promotion: A Guide for Educators and State and Local Leaders”, U.S. Department of Education, May 1999:

    The costs of social promotion to students are high. To move students from grade to grade without attention to their skills is an unacceptable practice. It frustrates students who cannot do the work expected, and it sends a message to students that little is expected of them. As a result, students fail to grasp the importance of working to achieve academic goals and learn they can get by without working hard. Students who are socially promoted are likely to graduate, if they graduate at all, unprepared for work and for the future.

    The government and police departments may continue to concentrate their resources on trying to catch all the criminals, seize all weapons, increase penalties, etc. But before they have to start building more jails to keep everyone safe (and before all the tourists decide to go elsewhere), it seems wise to look for the root causes of this criminal behaviour. The Forde report does just that, and if “social promotion” in education is identified as one such cause, parents should be demanding an immediate review of this practise to come up with some better alternatives.

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