Dr David Allen was speaking about the link between childhood trauma and violence.
By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
EARLY childhood abuse is linked to violence and murder in teenage years, noted psychiatrist Dr David Allen said yesterday, adding this “hidden epidemic” is “wreaking havoc” in the country.
Dr Allen spoke of the link with childhood trauma and violence as the Ministry of National Security launched the Advisory Council on Crime, an organisation which will provide a holistic, evidence-based approach to tackling crime. The council will be chaired by Dr Allen, founder of The Family: People Helping People.
At a press conference to announce the launch yesterday, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames referenced a study by Dr Allen and Director of Research Keva Bethel, which found a correlation to perpetrators being victims of crime themselves.
Of these findings, Dr Allen said: “We’ve found there’s a powerful connection between early childhood sexual abuse and late teenage year murders… If a kid is abused sexually, between one and seven years-old, they have a high rate of violent crimes in the late teenage years, early 20s.
“If you look at our murder rate, the average age of Bahamian murderers is between 16 and 24. I am convinced through my work in The Family, around the country, that it’s a hidden epidemic, that we’re not paying attention to early childhood sexual abuse, incest and that’s wreaking havoc on our country. The new theory isn’t ‘what have you done’, but ‘what happened to you?’ We now believe that people who are traumatised continue producing trauma.”
With sexual abuse already identified as a cause of violence, Mr Dames was asked if anything is being done to tackle this problem.
“There are things that are currently being done and things that are being worked on,” he replied. “A few days ago we signed an MoU with Corrections Canada. And if you look at that MoU and you look at what’s about to take place…in the Department of Corrections…we’re talking about treatment for sexual offenders, treatment for persons who would have been victims. We’re talking about that.”
As for the newly formed council, Mr Dames described its purpose as twofold: “First to serve as a consultative arm of the Ministry of National Security on crime and second, to function as the bridge between law enforcement and the community.”
Mr Dames contextualised the council as part of this administration’s latest initiatives to “reduce the unacceptable levels of crime”. He noted that last year, the country saw overall crime decrease by eight percent and homicides by 25 percent. Last year, the country recorded 91 murders, the lowest since 2010 when 94 people were murdered.
“With the launch of this Advisory Council coupled with hardworking police officers and law enforcement personnel, and our recent strategies and initiatives, we anticipate to see continuing decreases in crime,” Mr Dames continued.
Mr Dames noted the council has five main objectives: to identify and describe the root causes of crime and recommend creative ways to address these; to provide a forum where those with ideas on tackling crime can present their thoughts; to act as a “microcosm” of all the key stakeholders in the fight against crime; to develop, redefine, and expand on programmes to deal with the roots of crime; and to function as a think tank to “discuss difficulty issues” to enhance how law enforcement and citizens can work together.
Mr Dames said the committee is comprised of approximately 21 volunteers, who he described as “a great group of professionals”.