I was all set to write the 3rd part in my series on what we need to do to solve crime in The Bahamas today, but I came across an article on Facebook where Nicolette Bethel was asked the above question.
Her response was a no holds barred commentary on the state of our country. I was so taken with her response that I felt it was something that should be shared and re-posted as much as possible.
Btw if you don’t know, Mrs. Nicolette Bethel is the Assistant Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work at the College of The Bahamas.
If you don’t have the time to read the entire thing, click here for my top quotes from this article. But this is definitely worth reading.
I’m not sure I buy the popular semi-hysteria about crime. As a social scientist I tend to stand back and look at local situations as objectively as possible. Here are the facts that strike me about The Bahamas in 2013.
1) We have a population problem. It’s not a problem of overpopulation; far from it. It’s a problem of population distribution. Almost a quarter of a million people live in eighty square miles of land. The population density that results—3,125 people per square mile—places intolerable pressure on all of us. But it’s unnecessary pressure, because the whole territory of The Bahamas totals approximately 5400 square miles, and our whole population totals 354,000; the population density of our whole nation is a mere 66 people per square mile. To me, it’s a no-brainer; we HAVE to create and encourage the development of centres of population around our archipelago and establish means of encouraging Nassauvians to move there. End of story. But:
2) We have an economic problem. For the last twenty years if not more, our governments have placed more emphasis on the attraction of foreign direct investment in various forms than on any single local developmental initiative. The result is that we all today confuse the construction of huge resorts with actual development, and we castigate our leaders for spending pretty well any money on Bahamians at all, put by the fact that such spending is an investment in the Bahamian nation. The landscape that has been produced is a landscape in which the fabulously wealthy of the world live behind illegally high walls in gated communities five driving minutes away from areas of high population density and virtually no amenities. We have allowed our educational services to stagnate, so that we are still providing the majority of our citizens with the kind of education that was appropriate for the first ten years of our independence, but with a deterioration in its quality.
We quibble about whether we can “afford” a university but have no problems in assigning more money from our national budget to “assist” the latest multimillion dollar resort complex in its development than we assign to the College of The Bahamas. In other words, our country, which is still the wealthiest in CARICOM, has real economic problems when it comes to how it spends its money, and on what. Rather than investing in the means to develop the whole of this large, land-rich, stunningly beautiful, strategically significant nation, we waste far too much on projects that harm the general population without generating any return.
In this scenario, crime is inevitable, and the violent crime that we have come to fear this year is depressingly predictable. I have been convinced for most of my adult life, from the moment I set foot in a classroom to teach the younger brothers of young men who had struck it rich working for major and minor drug lords, that some of the best minds in The Bahamas go into crime. The young men who are killing themselves and others in the process are part of our national resource, and we have worked hard to discard them like paper. They are turning their minds to making space for themselves because no one has made any room for them. We want them to work as construction workers at the bottom of a hierarchy that still places whiteness and riches at its top, and we expect them to be grateful. At the same time, we live in a society with open borders and a general resistance to spending the kind of money and time needed to police those borders adequately, and we also live on the edge of the most schizophrenic society that ever lived—a society that says that all men are equal of one side of its mouth, and out of the other side says that all people are equally good targets for bullets. The absurd American Arm the Good Guy scenario does not work, because which individual really believes he’s the bad guy? And so:
violent crime, criminals with automatic weapons, and sensational headlines that sell newspapers but really do very little to present the problem sensibly.
To sum up: I don’t buy the “worst year” idea in terms of crime. I’m not sure that 2013 was the worst year; I tend to divide what I read in Bahamian discourse on these sorts of things by four and digest the result. We have the crime that we should expect for the population size and density that we have on New Providence. It is not at all surprising. It’s frightening, yes, but that’s because our city is too small to absorb it. The solutions are there. It’s a mathematical problem whose solution can be simple. We need to act to make it happen.
- We have a population problem. It’s not a problem of overpopulation; far from it. It’s a problem of population distribution.
- We all today confuse the construction of huge resorts with actual development
- We are still providing the majority of our citizens with the kind of education that was appropriate for the first ten years of our independence, but with a deterioration in its quality
- Our country, which is still the wealthiest in CARICOM, has real economic problems when it comes to how it spends its money, and on what
- I have been convinced for most of my adult life,…that some of the best minds in The Bahamas go into crime.
- We want them [young men] to work as construction workers at the bottom of a hierarchy that still places whiteness and riches at its top, and we expect them to be grateful
- The absurd American Arm the Good Guy scenario does not work, because which individual really believes he’s the bad guy?
- We have the crime that we should expect for the population size and density that we have on New Providence.
What are your thoughts on her response to the question “Was 2013 the worst year ever for crime in The Bahamas?
Do you agree or disagree with any of her points?
Please comment below.
Special post today. I sent out a message on Facebook asking the 1500 Straight Talk Community members for 5 questions they would ask any Political Representative that came seeking their support.
Right now I believe there is too much focus on trivial concerns and not enough given to serious issues.
Therefore, my goal in asking the question was to encourage people to think about what issues they want their representatives or party of choice to address in the community or The Bahamas.
In the past within the housing market Bahamians have proven that majority of home owners are individuals that either build their homes or inherit homes, with a small percentage purchasing previously owned homes.
Over the past five years, the number of home foreclosures have increased and the number of individuals unable to pay their mortgage payments have increased.
Question 1: What is your government’s plan if elected to facilitate the real estate market with a proven increase in homes and a decrease in the demand of previously owned homes?
Question 2: Also what is your plan to decrease the number of home foreclosures among individuals who have specific cases leading to inability to pay their mortgage. (Illness, job loss etc.)?
Protect The Children
The 2011 case of Marco Archer has become a common example of why the Bahamas needs to review our laws as it pertains to sex crimes, and child abuse revisited and amended.In 2011 there was also a major increase in the number of reported child abuse cases.
Question: With such acts becoming more familiar and more public what is your government’s stance on combating such crimes. (Safe houses, convicted sex offender’s list, screening for school staff etc.)?
Ensuring Children Attend School
Everyday if you drive along the streets of Nassau after 9am we would see many young children wandering around and not attending schools.
Question: What is your governments plan to better canvas residential areas to ensure every Bahamian child is attending school during the mandatory period? (Implementing a truancy program etc.)?
Missing Teenage Girls
In more recent times the headlines of the major newspapers have been flooded with cases of missing young girls and in about two-three days return home.
For most cases these girls are known for running away from home time and time again, also are found in the company of older men.
Question: What is your government’s plan to combat such actions as these type of cases results in the seriousness of missing children decreasing among the Bahamian public, wastes policing resources and no one seems to be held responsible when all is said and done?
In the Bahamas there has been an increase in mental illness, suicide and like cases over the last few years.
Question: What does your government plan to do to better facilitate centers such as Sandilands and to make such counselling centers more accessible and more equipped to the Bahamian public.?
Thanks You Ms. Beneby for sharing your questions. Very informative and definitely touching on some major issues that we need to focus on in this country.
What questions do you want your next representative or political party to answer?
PS. If you want to share your questions send them to straighttalkbahamas at gmail dot com. Thanks