Violence remains a major problem in different regions and islands across the Caribbean. This kind of malpractice affects the integrity of the entire society and discourages people from pursuing their economic and social goals. The paper focuses on the nature and effect of gang violence in the Caribbean and the most appropriate strategies to prevent it. The current idea of examining this problem as a major problem affecting the Caribbean will be challenged using several opposing views to this topic. The paper will conclude by encouraging all stakeholders to focus on these issues and deliver an evidence-based model for empowering more citizens in the selected region.
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For many centuries, human beings have abused, mistreated, undermined, or even oppressed one another. This malpractice is unacceptable since it makes it impossible for the affected victims to succeed in life. Any form of abuse, torture, oppression, or injury discourages investors and citizens from pursuing their economic objectives. The result is that the affected country or community will find it hard to pursue its objectives. The purpose of this research paper is to give a detailed analysis and description of gang violence in the Caribbean and some of the best ways or strategies to prevent this kind of misbehavior. The final section will offer opposing views of the selected topic. The case of the Virgin Islands will be considered to analyze this issue and present evidence-based legal perspectives and recommendations that deliver positive results.
Analysis and Description of Gang Violence in the Caribbean
Many societies and countries across the world are against crime since it is against established laws, ethical principles, and standards. Any form of violence is also capable of affecting the integrity of a given society and making it impossible to realize its goals. Alves (2019) defines it as any form of behavior or physical force aimed at damaging, killing, or hurting another individual. It can also be displayed or pursued to destroy a person’s property. Many regions across the Americas are associated with violence, abuse of human rights, increased levels of drug use, and child trafficking. A study conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2017 revealed that U.S. Virgin Islands has one of the highest crime and gang violence in the continent and across the world (McCarthy, 2018).
The Caribbean has several countries that are outlined in the Top 10 list for violent crime (Knight, 2017). Honduras, El Salvador, and Venezuela are the leading nations in terms of murders per 100,000 people (Knight, 2017). This means that such countries are not good options for internal trade or foreign direct investments (FDIs). The U.S. Virgin Islands is the fourth in the world with over 52 murders for every 100,000 members of the population (McCarthy, 2018). It is followed by Jamaica which has around 43 murders in 100,000 citizens (McCarthy, 2018). The other leading regions include Nevis and Kitts. Some additional countries in the Caribbean have also been known for violent crime and abuse of human rights, such as St. Lucia, Anguilla, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Several studies have been completed to understand the nature of this predicament and its implications on the lives of the affected citizens. Joosen and Bailey (2019) observed that one in three respondents had lost at least one person to crime and violence. The greatest majority of the participants revealed that they had witnessed or gone through abuse in the major urban areas across the Caribbean (Knight, 2017). The completed researches revealed that guns were available and used in most of the robberies that take place in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Gang violence or culture has remained a major problem that many people in different parts of the world have to face. More often than not, this form of violence only results in the loss of personal assets or money. Fortunately, this kind of malpractice is less common in different regions across the Caribbean, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is by a study presented in 2017 by the Inter-American Development Bank (McCarthy, 2018). However, the findings went further to reveal that violent crimes remained high and capable of affecting the experiences of the victims. The Caribbean has continued to report the highest levels of violent or gun-based behaviors in the world (Gentle-Genitty et al., 2017). As described above, the number of murders in every 100,000 citizens might be higher than the ones recorded in the completed studies (McCarthy, 2018). This happens to be the case since most of these behaviors are never reported to the relevant authorities.
Similarly, the studies undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) have identified the U.S. Virgin Islands as one of the riskiest places on earth due to the rate of murders per capita. Homicides have also remained extremely high in the Caribbean. Most of the completed studies have linked such deaths to retaliatory attacks by rival groups (Gentle-Genitty et al., 2017). This means that gang violence remains a major challenge that makes it impossible for many people in the region to pursue their aims. This kind of development supports the establishment of a superior system for acquiring guns and using them to perpetrate violence. The operation of various rival gangs and groups is something that has remained a mystery for different security agencies and those in leadership positions. However, Knight (2017) believes that specific social problems might have contributed to the current situation, including poverty, increased unemployment rates, engagement in prostitution, human trafficking, and the illicit drug trade.
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Effects of Gang Crime and Violence
Regions associated with gang violence record diverse challenges and obstacles that make it hard for the population to achieve its objectives. The current problem of violence in the U.S. Virgin Islands cannot be properly understood without examining its impacts on the entire region. Knight (2017) indicates that the region has remained troubled since the countries encounter similar challenges and obstacles that create the best environment for promoting crime. As described above, violence in this part of the Americas has a long history and development that experts and researchers should not ignore. This kind of practice will empower them to understand the nature of this predicament and propose evidence-based solutions to empower and meet the greatest number of citizens. The discussion below highlights the effects and issues associated with the current challenge of violence.
Firstly, the existence of crime in the Caribbean has become an opportunity for smugglers and promoters of illicit trade to thrive. According to Joosen and Bailey (2019), most of the drugs, items, and weapons many gangs are from the region. Instead, they are obtained from different countries in the Americas, including the United States, El-Salvador, Jamaica, Cuba, Venezuela, and Mexico. This problem of international trade has made it possible for many people to commit the crime and move to a different country. Consequently, security officials and established organizations will be unable to identify or hold them accountable for their actions.
Secondly, the issue of gang violence is a leading risk factor for child molestation and women’s disempowerment. Most of the completed studies have indicated that many young individuals are forced to commit heinous crimes before joining specific criminal groups. Some are even required to undertake various activities without being paid. Women are forced to engage in prostitution and other malpractices that are illegalized in different parts of the world (De Jesus & Hernandes, 2019). This means that majority of the affected individuals will be unable to pursue their goals or engage in roles that will eventually make them successful.
Thirdly, the development and sustainability of any given economy will be dictated by the nature of political processes and security initiatives. The complexity and nature of gang violence in the Caribbean have created a scenario whereby those in power might not be able to tackle the vice. Consequently, citizens and visitors will always be afraid to engage in economic activities. Investors will be unwilling to start their businesses in the affected country (Knight, 2017). The result is that the economy will stagnate, thereby making it impossible for many citizens to pursue their objectives. This is the exact situation or problem recorded in different countries across the Caribbean.
Fourthly, any act of violence is known to claim lives, cause injuries, and result in the destruction of property. These occurrences affect the existing social structures and resources for promoting people’s welfare. In the Caribbean, many citizens are usually unable to get timely health services since there are adequate facilities. The government has been unable to implement or support the establishment of modern infrastructure (Alves, 2019). The levels of unemployment and poverty have continued to rise due to the absence of proper laws and social programs. Criminals and organized gangs disorient any effort aimed at improving the experiences and welfare of the greatest number of citizens.
Recommendations for Preventing Gang Violence
The predicaments many people in the selected region face should guide those in leadership positions to present evidence-based solutions and strategies to prevent gang violence or culture. The implementation of powerful laws is an evidence-based practice that has worked effectively in many regions or countries to overcome the problem of violence. Unfortunately, such a model has been unrealistic for different nations in the Caribbean. Alves (2019) reveals that policies will only work effectively if there is a stable government and a working judicial system. Such functions should also be supported by an effective policing strategy or network. The first model that can deliver desired outcomes in the long term entails the implementation of a community empowerment initiative (Knight, 2017). Although this technique echoes the notions of community policing, it will be relevant for those in power to guide citizens to support the effectiveness of the existing police departments, offer timely information, and support the establishment of desirable ethics.
The second approach for preventing this misbehavior in the Caribbean revolves around the concepts of collaboration and partnership. The issue of violence in the U.S. Virgin Islands echoes the problems different countries in the Caribbean continue to encounter. The governments in such states should coordinate and share information in an attempt to identify the leading sources of weapons, illicit drugs, and other unwanted materials (McCarthy, 2018). This effort will support the disorientation of the routes many gangs and traffickers use to achieve their goals (Woolf, 2017). The involvement of different ports authority across the region will ensure that the current levels of weapons reduce significantly.
The third possible initiative for preventing gang violence in the U.S. Virgin Islands is the establishment and support of a powerful judicial system that seeks to empower and reform criminals instead of punishing them. This model means that individuals who commit smaller or lesser offenses will be apprehended and taken to appropriate facilities. Those who engage in organized crime will be sentenced in a court of law depending on the nature of their wrongdoings (Gentle-Genitty et al., 2017). The collaboration with other global agencies will ensure that the established system delivers positive results. The introduction of proper laws and guidelines will make it easier for the judiciary to function effectively and deliver justice to all people (Izarali, 2017). There is a need to improve such policies frequently depending on the challenges many people continue to encounter.
Finally, appropriate structures, resources, and functions will be needed to meet the diverse needs of different members of the population. This means that the government should be on the frontline to create employment opportunities and build the required infrastructure. These processes will create a scenario whereby the greatest number of citizens will be willing to engage in various economic activities (Mohammed & Sookram, 2015). They will be empowered to support each other, solve emerging problems, and promote the concept of community policing. Police officers should be motivated to pursue their goals diligently and be ready to address the concerns different citizens present (Izarali, 2017). This can be achieved by paying them competitively and equipping them with the right resources and guns to pursue their goals diligently.
Many scholars and experts have identified gang culture as the leading challenge many citizens continue to face. Unfortunately, Katz (2015) reveals that policymakers, researchers, and criminal justice departments have taken long before discussing this issue seriously. This is a clear indication that there are specific groups that believe that the current problem of gang violence is not something unique. Instead, they argue that this crime is a social rot recorded in every part of the world (Katz, 2015). This means that the UN report should be expanded to explain why violence is a global challenge.
The above parts have linked gang culture to increased use of illicit drugs and insecurity. Some scholars have indicated that these outcomes cannot be triggered by the issue of violence (Katz, 2015). For instance, Izarali (2017) argues that many societies continue to face or experience a wide range of problems, such as juvenile delinquency, child abuse, and the use of illicit substances. These problems are common in many parts of the world and make it impossible for individuals to lead high-quality lives. The identification of the Caribbean as the only region affected by crime and gang violence is inappropriate. This will discourage more people and parties from focusing on the realities of this issue and how different countries in the Americas are affected by the predicament of organized crime. This objection explains why this crime needs to be studied as a continental problem affecting millions of people.
The above solutions have the potential to transform the present situation and empower many people to pursue their aims. However, Knight (2017) views population empowerment as the most appropriate solution for tackling this challenge and ensuring that more citizens engage in various economic activities. Such individuals will get new job opportunities and start small enterprises successfully. The government can provide grants to support the objectives of underprivileged citizens. The result is that these people will become empowered and stop engaging in criminal activities. Some analysts believe that the above recommendations for preventing gang violence are hypothetical but not applicable in a real-life situation (Katz, 2015). All stakeholders should consider the nature of these views and opinions to deliver long-lasting solutions. The consideration of these opposing views can deliver superior insights that can make it possible for the UN, the US, and other parties to find evidence-based and sustainable strategies to address this predicament.
The above discussion has presented a clear picture of violence and crime in the Caribbean region. The number of deaths recorded every year in the U.S. Virginia Islands has continued to increase. Throughout the region, organized crime has remained a major predicament that makes it hard for many citizens to engage in appropriate economic activities. The outcomes of violence include poor living conditions, ineffective social support systems, and disrespect for human liberties or freedoms. Young people are usually forced to engage in crime to become acceptable in society. The research paper has concluded by explaining why appropriate government structures, proper judicial systems, community involvement, and citizen empowerment will play a significant role in addressing this predicament.
Alves, J. A. (2019). Refusing to be governed: Urban policing, gang violence, and the politics of evilness in an Afro‐Colombian shantytown. Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 42(1), 21-36. Web.
De Jesus, M., & Hernandes, C. (2019). Generalized violence as a threat to health and well-being: A qualitative study of youth living in urban settings in Central America’s “northern triangle”. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(18), 3465-3481. Web.
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