In response to RCIP Commissioner Mr. David Baines’ comments blaming rap music for crime among young people, I disagree.
I agree that all types of violent music has some negative influence on young people but I would not go as far to say that it prompts one to commit serious crimes. I also think making such comments discredits all the hard work and commitment that persons such as local rapper and recently Grammy award nominee Jason Gilbert and his group “The iZ” and others like D.L.S. have accomplished. Rap music has come along way since the 1980s and early 90s where ‘gangster’ rap music was much more popular. Many rap artists these days are actually entrepreneurs, often wearing business suits, most having their own clothing line, fragrances and record labels. A few even have ownership in professional basketball teams (NBA). Hip Hop artist, Jay-Z was recently featured on Forbes magazine alongside billionaire Warren Buffet. Although, most focus on wealth and fame, I think they also inspire young people to do something positive with their life and to dream big.
There are a number of things that contribute to our young people committing crimes and rap music in my opinion is not the main reason. I am not suggesting that parents allow their children to listen to violent music, but not all rap music is bad. I personally feel the main reason for the increase of crime among our youth today is the breakdown of the family and society’s lack of patience and tolerance in grooming our youth.
Looking on the Economics and Statistics website, it showed that in 2009 Cayman had 232 filed divorces and in 2008, 196 divorces were granted, the highest in 24 and 23 years respectively. Any single parent can tell you how hard it is to raise a family on their own, whether it is financially, physically or mentally. I read a study online by Heritage Foundation that said “the absence of the father is the single most important cause of crime and the percentage of single-parent households with children between the ages of 12 and 20 is significantly associated with rates of violent crime and burglary.” Material things can be replaced, but a great father missing from home is irreplaceable.
Many studies show that the breakdown within the home can be detrimental to young people, causing many to commit crimes. If you do not believe in the studies, just look around and watch from experience, where do young men learn to assault women? Many times they see it happen growing up right in their own home. Where do young people pick up drug and alcohol habits? From their parents, relatives or persons close around them; actually many teens have admitted that their first alcohol drink came from their parents.
Young people not working or attending full time school is another cause which bolsters crime. We all know that idleness and too much free time causes young people to get into mischief.
I think poor modelling also has an impact on our youth. Every person on earth has the social responsibility to be a good role model within the community; however, a lot of the bad habits that our young people pick up, they pick up from adults. Foul language, selfishness, anger, negativity just to name a few. I think the lack of positive role models within our community also has an affect on our youth. A recent poll done by Gallup/USA Today showed President Barack Obama to be the “Most Admired Man” for the third straight year. Whether you like him or not, it is evident that he is a family man and demonstrates and conducts himself in a very professional and admirable manner, which is very appealing to the younger generation. The reason we have so many young people looking abroad and being influenced from overseas is because of the lack of role models here in Cayman. I am not saying we don’t have some in Cayman. I personally know several of them but it is not to a magnitude of what is really needed. We need more role models and leaders who stand out, Caymanian role models and leaders, who aspire to inspire this new generation.
We as a nation need to start encouraging our children more and instilling positive things into their minds on a consistent basis; it has a negative influence on them when all they hear is negative things. I do not think we encourage our children enough, to dream big, think positive, instil into them that they can do anything they put their minds to. Growing up, I did not have much confidence in myself until other people took notice of my potential and started encouraging me and I suspect many young people are going through the same thing today.
When I attended school, I recall one teacher telling me that I wouldn’t become anything. I also had people comparing me to family members who had certain addictions. We need to let our children know that their past, neighbourhood, race, wealth or educational background do not affect their future.
Not to my surprise, the same study done by the Heritage Foundation, which I truly believe to be accurate, stated that “Neighbourhoods with a high degree of religious practice are not high-crime neighbourhoods.” I do not think that anyone can argue that the principles and morals that Christianity teaches us have been diminishing within our community. Many of our elders will tell you that Cayman has changed significantly and although I believe in change, there are just some things such as our moral integrity, personal responsibility and community involvement that should not change.
I call upon families, fathers in particular, to take your rightful place in society to shelter your sons and daughters from destroying themselves.
Teach them the right morals and principles that will help them to be successful in life and help build their characters that will not allow them to bend under negative influence. These things cannot be taught in colleges or universities but can only be obtained within a loving home. In doing so, we will build a stronger community in the fight against crime both locally and internationally.
President Young United Democratic Party