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Voices from the Streets Part 1- The need for healthy relationships

By Nixon Dickenson

These islands were selected based on the number of serious crimes that were being committed by young men, especially gun related.

We wanted to hear firsthand from young men what they felt were possible solutions in addressing the recent surge in gun violence taking place in the country. Of course, as a youth worker I am always engaging with young people but this tour was different. For me and the other youth workers who willingly supported this initiative, it was personal. We felt the harshness of this social ill in a real way, when one of the lives lost was a youth we mentored.

The reality that the individual we looked forward to blooming hopes and dreams were suddenly shattered because of gun violence. Even as I write this I feel a great sense of pain as the lives lost in recent killings during the final months in 2023 were young men with so much potential and purpose. While there are those who feel that the story is old and there are no answers, I beg to differ.

Education of the masses play a very important role in critical times when there seem to be no definite answer to this vexing problem. As we listened to the views of the young men they provided a range of issues that they felt contributed to the criminal activities that are currently plaguing our society. To place all of this into a single article, will not do justice to the time spent on the streets and the information shared by these young men.

 I am therefore committing to producing a series of articles to keep this issue at the center of every platform until sustainable solutions are reached. I made a promise to them that I will strive to get their voices in the spaces where it needs to be heard.

This first article will address the need to build healthy relationships. Many of them spoke of ills that occurred in their childhood stemming from broken homes, physical and sexual abuse and neglect. Missed opportunities because of not knowing someone with the right connections and being passed over because of their background and the community that they belonged to.

As we listened to the stories we felt the deep pain coming from them and saw that there were layers of deep hurt and rejection under the tough guy façade. For many of these guys they found comfort in streets and pledged their allegiance to the bedrocks that sustained them when they could not find the support they sought in their homes, schools, churches and communities.

 These bedrocks taught them to adopt the code of ‘all for one and one for all’ which later translated into the violence that seeps through our society. It has been proven that a kind word can put a grievous situation to rest and prevent strife. Unfortunately, many persons who turn to a life of crime have not always experienced the kindness of society; rather they have experienced failures and losses that only catapulted them further into carrying out criminal activities and seeking support from negative bedrocks.

As we being this new year 2024, I would like to encourage readers to seek out a young person in your community that is struggling to make good choices and build a positive relationship with him or her.

Pray for them and offer support to their families. The solutions that we are seeking will become possible, when we come together. Stay tuned for Voices from the Street part 2 in next week’s edition.



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