Crime and Violence

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In Trinidad and Tobago we are presently faced with an alarming number of acts of violence and crime. Whatever the precise cause of the problem, the harsh consequences are that as a nation we are losing our young people, particularly to a life of crime and violence because most of our crime are being carried out by young peoples particularly males. In the fight against the increase in acts of crime and violence in Trinidad and Tobago we as a nation must take the initiative to address the issues of globalization, family diversity, education and the challenging socialization situation of our society today. Statistics have show that there has been a significant increase in the number of acts of violence and reported crimes especially by young people. In the year 2007 there were 395 murders and 115 kidnapping, this number increased in the year 2008 to 550 murders and 11 kidnapping (2009, TT Crime- Crime Statistics Trinidad – Tobago). There has also been a significant increase in serious reported crime from the year 2000 from 17,132 to well over 20,000 in 2009. An article by Carmen Sanchez entitled Trinidad and Tobago murder capital of the Caribbean stated as of June 2009 there were 550 homicides at a rate of 55 murders per. 100,000. We need as a nation to critical examine our young people and listen to them; these acts of violence are not only unacceptable but are cries for help by persons who have been abused, live a life of poverty and have low self-esteem. Baumeister (1999) stated that people with low self-esteem may channel their violent tendencies towards others in acts of violence. Based on a study of self-esteem Kaplan (1975) conducted extensive studies into the causes of violence, including a study of 7,000 7th graders, and underscore the significance of self-esteem as a factor in crime and violence, he found that violations to self-esteem serve as a major source of hostility and aggression which contribute to crime and violence. There are many other factors that contribute to violence and delinquency; factors include drugs, poverty, abuse, frustration, class and cultural conflict and jealousy to name but a few, which can be directly affected by ones self-confidence and self-esteem. The development of self esteem and individual personality are highly dependant on key institutions in society such as the family, school, church and media. These institutions or agents have a tremendous impact on the development of the young child’s personality and self-esteem through socialization. Psychologist as Erickson with his theory of psychosocial development has identified a number of stages which describes the physical, emotional and cognitive development of the child from age 0 to adulthood. Bandura‘s social learning theory also explains how the environment influences behaviour and behaviour causes the environment as well. Erickson identified stages critical to the development of ones self-esteem and self-concept; from as early as 1 year the child needs to know that his or her basic needs such as affection are consistent and satisfied by parents/caregivers as this helps in developing trust vs mistrust. By age 12 the child is at the stage of identifying his identity; who am I? and what I want to be in life? This stage of building self-concept and esteem is greatly influences by the previous stages and the values which the child has been exposed to and learned through socialization. Albert Bandura’s theory of Social Learning is also significant in the development of a child’s personality. He believed individuals learned through observing others behaviour, attitudes and outcomes of those behaviours. In his study on adolescent aggression he suggests that behaviour causes or influences environment and the environment influences behaviour. A child will practice violence if the environment is one which endorses violence, the child will also use language effectively or not for communication, based on what he is exposed to during...
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