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Psychiatrist On 'Hidden Epidemic Wreaking Havoc' In Bahamas

Dr David Allen was speaking about the link between childhood trauma and violence.

Dr David Allen was speaking about the link between childhood trauma and violence.

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

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”.

Comments

John 1 year, 5 months ago

“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.”

While this may be a factor in the equation, what study group did Dr. Allen use to draw this conclusion?. And if this is the major factor that causes murder in this country, is it the same in Jamaica, Trinidad, major cities in the United States and now even Britain, yes London where little teenage boys are stabbing each other to death at epidemic rates. Yes, murder is a learned behavior. And there is more correlation between violent movies games, music that young people are exposed to. Its called channeling. Many were designed for that specific purpose. And when mixed with drugs and alcohol. Many will admit they cannot recall the specific moments when the actual murder occurred.

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Future 1 year, 5 months ago

Hatians must be the most abusive then. Get them out of our country and watch how greatly the crime rate diminishes.

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John 1 year, 5 months ago

Incest (though not right) is more common in several Family Island communities. Yet their murder rate is zero. Not just over one year, but over decades. Tell the good. Doctor to dispense of this garbage and go do some proper research. Hint: many of the murders are ‘hits’/ executions where there is little or no correlation between the killers and the victims except they may be in warring gangs or fighting for drugs turf

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Straight_Talk_Bahamas 1 year, 5 months ago

So nothing of the correlation between beating kids and violence?

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 5 months ago

Dr. Allen should be commended for his hard work in this community whether or not every study he has done is correct or not. He never claimed to be Jesus. Instead he is more like John the Baptist, "a voice crying out in the wilderness". He is out there WORKING in the community trying to improve our sorrowful disgusting state instead of just walking around saying "Thank God for life" like the majority of mindless zombie idiots do all day long.

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joeblow 1 year, 5 months ago

A screwed up child becomes a screwed up adult, but we know this already!

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John 1 year, 5 months ago

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.

The factor(s) that are causing murder had to have been introduced into the (black) Bahamian society within the past ten-twenty years when the incidence of murder became epidemic. Bahamians, like other blacks, endured .hundreds of years of slavery where women were raped, married women even, in front of their husbands and children. Male slaves were forced to breed and be separated from their children and there was always physical abuse, including lynchings, mutilations and hangings. Murder among the slaves was a rare occurrence. And even after slavery, with the continued abuse and discrimination, the spraying with fire hoses, the dog attacks, the destruction of property, the cross burnings. So again the good doctor is asked what sample did he use? Does data reflect that there is an increase in incest, child abuse, and murder? And if he did take a sample of murderers, what portion of them fit into this category. And, as an alternative, why did murder not manifest itself in other (Family island) communities where these characteristics are also present?

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