Youth activist: Teenage boys in massive crisis
Stories by COREY CONNELLY Sunday, March 30 2014
Teenage boys in this country are in “massive crisis,” actor Hal Greaves contends.
Greaves, who portrays the popular character “Roy” on several local television skits, described as frightening, the fact that young males are not only commiting murders and other serious crimes but are also among a large percentage of the prisons population.
“The number of young males who are dying is too large,” Greaves said, adding that the problem also extends to the nation’s roadways. “Our youths are dying on the roads because they are speeding.”
Greaves, who works extensively with young people in troubled communities, lamented that not enough was being done to address the needs of those most in need of help.
“There are programmes and we boast about it... but it is like having medicine in a cupboard and a grandmother needing medicine in a back room and you very proud the medicine is in the cupboard, but it is not getting to her,” he said. Greaves told Sunday Newsday that he recently met with officials from the Ministry of Community Development to map out a strategy for meaningful intervention in Laventille and surrounding communities “so they could find out what the needs are and have programmes relevant to that.”
For too long, he said, “There was no need (among governmental agencies) to meet with the people.”
Greaves claimed that the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme (YTEPP), Helping You Prepare for Employment Programme (HYPE) and the Multi-Sector Skills Training Programme (MUST) — all of which were conceptualised to provide young people with viable skills — were not set up in depressed communities.
“The programmes are existing in communities that do not have the problem,” he observed, noting also that many schools in east Port-of-Spain and Laventille do not have guidance officers.
“One would have thought that with the fear of crime in these areas, that there would be attempts to get some guidance officers, but the guidance officers we do have are not in areas of critical need,” he said. For this reason, he said, troubled youths often seek alternative tools to achieve their goals. “And very often, that is a gun because in a high-risk community it is easier to get a gun than a degree,” Greaves said.
Asked why Governments have not impacted such communities in a sustainable way, Greaves said: “It just costs so much to go into these communities in terms of time and human capital, especially when dealing with people who we perceive to be less than us.”
Greaves said there are many residents in at-risk areas doing positive work “but it takes so long for the State to support the positive people.
At present, he said, two boys from Laventille, under age ten, have been selected to go to an upcoming World Youth Club Camp in Barcelona, Spain.
“But they are finding it difficult to get funding,” he said.
“If there is no funding, where is the next (Russell) Latapy going to come from? They (governments) tell the youths that they could make it if they play sports but when they do it, they can’t respond to them.”
Greaves said parenting workshops must become a part of everyday life in depressed areas.
“When youths give problems, we suspend them and leave them under the supervision of their parents who are unable to supervise them properly. That does not make sense,” he said.
“If parents are not home or not able to supervise them, how will they improve? Yet when an offence is repeated we act surprised and we take action hoping the problem will just go away.”
Greaves said the Government as well as the people must work together to bring relief to youths in depressed areas.
“The Government won’t care unless the people care for themselves,” he said.