Dialing It Back


Dr Ian Bethell-Bennett


There has been so much talk about turning things back to the way they were. This will eliminate all the violence of young men killing each other. Sadly, it won’t, and it can’t be done.

As the gangs take over and their warfare destabilises entire areas as well as the country, we really need to stop thinking we can live as we did before and everything will be jus’ a’right.

When we consider the level of violence here is comparative to places where they are emerging from civil wars, we know something is wrong.

We so often say that boys need to be less violent, but who is going to teach them? In fact, we teach that boys must be violent. Violence is a part of their character, according to cultural roles. We also see that young women are becoming as violent as young men.

Though we tell them that girls cannot be violent, the cultural reality is that the ways we understand gender in this society means that both girls and boys are encouraged to be violent.

We tell people that this is a Christian country, but that also means that women must submit and men must violently dominate.

Ironically, this interpretation of culture and Christianity conflate to create more violence.

There are far too many coincidences for it to be that Bahamians, those good Christian, friendly, kind, passive folk would simply be violent without an entire culture building it to this.

For this reason, an entire cultural change would be needed to change it. This is not about policing or putting metal detectors in schools, or militarising the schools or building walls around certain areas because that’s where the problems are. That will not work.

In some war-torn countries and territories they have created manifold programmes to dissuade youth from violence and to address the trauma of post-violent interactions for those who inhabit places where their lives have been all but destroyed.

Some places have created programmes like ‘Sesame Street’, adapting and adopting the content and that show’s characters to their socio-cultural realities and to try undo some of the damage war has done. War does serious cultural and personal damage. We may not think of what we are living through as war, but gang warfare is called that for a reason and it causes psychological, emotional, and cultural problems.

The above television programme does not work in isolation, but is a part of an approach that works at a number of levels to mitigate against the damage. They have realised it benefits their society to invest in multifaceted programmes to rehabilitate youth and to intervene against violence, especially when that violence is produced in a post-traumatic, post-conflict social context.

Locally, there are a number of factors that lead to these situations. We ignore the level of domestic violence as well as the level of family violence. Studies are indicating that when children are raised in violet homes where they are often beaten and abused are less likely to be successful and will not be creative thinkers. Nationally, we do not think of beating as abuse, we think of beating, even if it is with electrical wire, as discipline. All of these lead to internalised trauma and anger.

Turning back the time?

So many people seem to live in splendid isolation from the facts, not in the alternative fact reality we have been blessed with in 2017, but one where they do not understand that there is no going back. The Internet has completely altered the face of the world and it will never return to what it was. Porn, violence, violent video games are all a part of the Internet reality. They are consumed at alarming rates.

Movies and television have become commonplace in most homes, and we cannot ignore how utterly violent even Disney has become. They allow us to think that violence is normal. They encourage us to want Hollywood lives or lives that we see on TV, even though we know it ain’t real.

They draw us in and imprison us in this virtual reality where violence is normalised, much like the interpersonal violence we experience everyday on the streets of Nassau.

Music and other popular culture have become utterly obsessed with justifying themselves and selling their reality, which is usually built around violence, sex, drugs, money and irresponsibility. Bitches and hoes have become what boys expect and call women and what women are want to be, in this transactional sex day and age. The cutter special is a reality. This will not change if we put police all over the streets, in fact, it could worsen. Music is especially harmful when unfiltered and uncontrolled because it can negatively impact young people’s unconscious, especially when parents are totally disengaged from parenting their children.

Family violence and media work together to create an incredibly violent group of young people.

This is not helped by leaders cultivating violence and encouraging the young people to see their behaviour as the acceptable norm. When we create young men with no sense of responsibility and then argue that we can turn this around by sending people back to church, we are really no seeing the trees for the forest. When we argue that young women need to be taught to be better women; the question must be asked, by whom?

Which groups of people are we talking about and how are we missing the social reality so utterly that we cannot see the design in this and the need to stop using policing as the way to make the world great and go into alternatives to this. Foe example, when we send kids to prison, no matter how bad they are beforehand, they will come out worse; there is no positive social programming in prison and the gangs are more active there than on the streets. Research shows all of this. The Internet cannot be turned off and music will not change without great effort as it makes a lot of people very rich, and this is not about the performers themselves. There is an industry out there that benefits from gang violence and creating bitches and hoes, let’s see how we can work against that and not stick our heads back in the sands of old.

• Please contact and send comments to bethellbennett@gmail.com


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