Azille says spike in youth violence has been festering and the weakening of family, society and reform units are to blame

Ashworth Azille, principal of the Clare Hall Secondary School, is disagreeing with persons who proffer that the upsurge in youth violence is a sudden act.

This problem, Azille says, has been festering incrementally for some time, and there has been a concerted effort by some young people to move in this direction.

He says that many factors, including social issues, are now in play.  And since the family structure and the wider society have been weakened, the philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child has been undermined, as well, Azille offers.

Whereas, in the past, an adult could pull a child aside, give a directive, and have it followed, there is no such accountability today, Azille says, as parents do not teach their children to respect other adults.

In these times, he adds, if an adult tries to correct a child, that adult is met with a serious tongue-lashing from the child – with no repercussions from the parents – showing how the structure of both the family and society has declined.

The principal also believes the decriminalization of marijuana is a contributing factor to the disorderly, rambunctious and sometimes criminal behaviour among youth.

And while Prime Minister Gaston Browne notes that young people have been smoking for decades, and studies reportedly show that decriminalizing the class B drug is not a factor in current youth behavior, Azille does not agree.

In fact, he contends that marijuana use has resulted in a great deal of dysfunctional behaviour, and his conclusion is based on the school’s own anecdotal records.

He says that a significant number of students between the ages of 13 and 17 years are smoking marijuana, and their behaviour and attitude continue to decline on a daily basis.  And, according to the educator, this decline manifests in a lot of violent actions.

Finally, Azille says, there has been a weakening of the reform units..

Many people fail to realize the value of institutions like the Boys Training School, the Youth Intervention Unit, and many other agencies designed to help reform young people who are inclined to be deviant – when they are run and operated well – Azille says.