The Police are urging parents and guardians to shoulder their responsibilities and get more involved in the supervision of their children.
Their advice comes in the wake of several violent gang attacks committed by young people against secondary-school students.
In a public statement, the Police administration says it “is of the firm view that the recent upsurge of violent behaviour among young people is a result of some parents failing to provide proper support and nurturing to their child/children.”
The Police say some parents’ lack of involvement in their children’s lives is reprehensible and should no longer be tolerated.
Therefore, in an effort to have this matter properly addressed, law-enforcement officers will be collaborating with the Ministry of Education – along with other stakeholders and parents – to turn the situation around.
They say the collaboration is aimed at helping young people to fulfill their potential to become positive citizens of Antigua and Barbuda.
The Police are also appealing to residents to get involved and to report any suspicious gatherings or disorderly behaviour among young people without delay.
Going forward, they say they expect the full cooperation of everyone in this matter. However, cynical residents tell REAL News they believe that police officers are, themselves, afraid of the violent gangs, since their response to incidents leaves much to be desired.
Last week, a mother complained to our News Room that the three persons who had beaten up her teenage son had not been sought nor detained by the Police, while she and her child were on their way to the hospital.
Making reference to the crime-fighting equipment recently donated to the Police, a father is asking whether this is not the time to put it to good use.
Meanwhile, yet another father says the violence was bound to escalate because the Police and the Minister of Justice had failed to take action earlier.
He referred specifically to the almost daily fights among students at the West Bus Station, saying the police outpost there ought to have been beefed-up “long garling time. So whah dem expect now when they did nothing to stop the fighting?”
In the meantime, a teacher is predicting that nothing preventative will happen “until somebody’s child is killed by another student or an angry parent takes out one of these gang members.”
Other adults say they have implored their children not to attend any public functions – especially not the upcoming concert that is to feature a prominent dancehall artiste – because they fear for the young people’s safety.
The All Saints Secondary School, meanwhile, has postponed its fundraising Glow Walk because of the fear of youth violence erupting at the event.