CoP: No substitute for proper parenting to deal with root causes of crime

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

National PTA president Walter Stewart presents a token to Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher at the NPTA mid year convention at the Lowlands Multipurpose Centre, Lowlands on May 25. –

POLICE COMMISSIONER Erla Harewood-Christopher says there’s no substitute for proper parenting in addressing the root causes of crime and violence in the country.

She made the statement on May 25 while delivering the keynote address at the National Parent-Teacher Association’s (NPTA’s) 64th mid-year convention at the Hampden/Lowlands Multipurpose Facility, Tobago. The theme of the event was Restore, Rebuild, Rebrand.

Addressing stakeholders, which included head of the Tobago Division, ACP Collis Hazel and NPTA representatives from the various educational divisions, Harewood-Christopher said she did not intend to reveal any of the anti-crime initiatives for Tobago in her speech as “that is Mr Hazel’s role.”

However, she acknowledged that the crime situation, particularly youth violence and delinquency, was untenable.

Harewood-Christopher said the home, church, community and school, have, in times past, played fundamental roles in creating wholesome, well-adjusted young people.

She lamented this is no longer the case.

“Today, we have departed from that traditional model and we are being challenged by a brand of delinquency that continues to baffle all right-thinking citizens. And in our desperation, there is this unrealistic expectation and over-reliance on the police to deter, detect and detain. And somehow, hopefully, that will pull things back,” she said.

“The truth is, with all the police can do and will do, there is no effective substitute to proper parenting. Proper parenting is the core of addressing the root causes of many of our problems.”

Some of the people who attended the 64th mid-year convention of the National Parent Teachers Association at the Lowlands Multipurpose Centre, in Tobago on May 25. –

Zeroing in on murders and other violent crimes, Harewood-Christopher said, “As a society, we have witnessed over time and now in our schools an escalation in the frequency, type and severity of the activities that have severely affected our safety and security.” What is being experienced today, she said, “appears to be the result of the gradual, persistent and cumulative erosion of the basic principles of adherence to law and order and respect for life and for each other.

“And the price that we are paying for this degradation is a real sense of insecurity, damage to property, injury to persons and loss of precious lives.”

Harewood-Christopher said the Police Service is not oblivious to the negative impact crime continues to have on citizens.

“The TT Police Service understands the national problem and acknowledges that there is a role that we can play in restoring, rebuilding and rebranding our communities and our society.”

The police commissioner outlined several initiatives in the areas of public safety, community engagement and youth empowerment, already on stream, to curb violence, especially among the country’s youth.

She said community-oriented police officers have established direct liaisons with school principals to implement plans and programmes to curb school violence and indiscipline. These include school patrols, visits and lectures.

Children on suspension, Harewood-Christopher said, are assisted in developing appropriate behaviours through involvement in police youth clubs and other after-school programmes.

“We have over 100 police youth clubs and 90 of them are active.”

To combat bullying, she said there are programmes to promote empathy, kindness and friendship.

“The programme also encourages open communication channels and effective mechanisms for students to report bullying incidents to create a safer school environment.”

Harewood-Christopher said the police have also partnered with a registered company specialising in mediation and conflict resolution training.

She said alternative dispute resolution services are provided through the Community Conflict Resolution Centre (CCRC), a crime-prevention programme which takes the form of a school conflict resolution caravan.

“The purpose of the caravan is to foster conflict resolution skills among students with the school communities requiring students to utilise alternative dispute resolution skills, enabling them to make better decisions whilst preventing situations of conflict from escalating.”

Harewood-Christopher said to date 27 schools and over 17,230 students have been engaged.