Barbados to conduct research on gangs
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday September 14, 2012 – Based on working definitions, Barbados’ Commissioner of Police and Anglican Bishop have disavowed the existence of gangs in the island. Retired Magistrate Faith Marshall-Harris and researcher Anastasia Bondarenko beg to differ, drawing on the findings of their research.
The country’s youth had their say in a 2010 survey of 649 primary school children and 726 secondary school children, in which it was revealed that 10 percent of those primary school children indicated that they were in a gang compared to 19 percent at secondary school.
Boys, it was noted, were more likely to say that they were involved in a gang, although female gangs were also said to exist. In some cases, initiation for females reportedly came in the form of a “sex-in”, in which initiates had to perform a sexual act, while some males were said to have been faced with a “beat-in” to become a member of a gang.
So said senior research officer Kim Ramsay, who revealed that the National Task Force on Crime Prevention is about to carry out research to determine the prevalence of gangs on the island as part of research that will be conducted by the Regional Security System (RSS) on its nine member states.
Ramsay was speaking during a recent panel discussion hosted by the Optimist Club of Bridgetown where she presented on the topic “Juvenile Delinquency and Victimisation: Causes and Possible Solutions”.
During the discussion it was argued that persons joined gangs to be looked up to, to have a sense of belonging and to ward off attacks by rival groups.
Ramsay suggested that a lot of people join gangs because of something missing within the home.
“They have no one to look up to. They have no one to guide them, they don’t feel loved. In the home you are pushed away because you are not getting the love and attention that you want; the pull factor in the gang is that you have people who will be there for you, who you can talk to about your problems and so on,” she said.
“I want to emphasise that we need to understand that the reason why a lot of people gravitate to the block, they gravitate to gangs and criminal groups is because of something that is missing within their homes or something within the family structure that is driving them away,” Ramsay stressed.