Home is the solution to crime!

 By Kenneth Gale

The vast majority of youths that join street gangs come from fatherless homes.

In Belize many of such youths lack a proper education and are also the victims of a poor economy. It is the lack of a father in the home to help, guide, and provide for the youths and the lack of formal education for the youths that have brought about Belize’s ever increasing crime rate.


A New Phenomenon           

Street gangs did not exist prior to the single mother evolution that took the place of traditional marriages that produced a father and a mother, who jointly raised their children.

The advance of the single parent home escalated after the mid-sixties when 93% of all births in the U.S. were by married mothers.

Compare that to the present where 40% of all births in the States are by unmarried mothers. Belize’s single parent birth rate is probably higher.



The single parent family is a disadvantaged family. It has many serious defects.  In the States, 70% of all those confined in prison come from single parent homes. The percentage may be even higher in Belize!

Children raised in a single parent’s home are often denied the necessary help and guidance of a father and frequently are denied the education he or she is entitled to.

The child often ends up in the streets, where he is improperly influenced by older males. More often than not he ends up as a gang member and the gang becomes his home on the streets.

Gang members refer to each other as “home boys” or “Homies” because the gang represents the home that the youth did not have during childhood.

A young defendant, who was given special consideration, as the court did not believe him to be very intelligent, was before the court on several occasions. The last  time, the court  asked him about what had transpired since his last appearance.


Baby Boy!

His answer: “My girlfriend is going to have a baby boy!”

“Now what?!” the court inquired.

He replied: “I am going to have to do something for that little fellow. Maybe if I had a father I would  not be here now”.

Even with the low intelligence attributed to him, he realized that if he had had a father to guide and assist him, he probably would not be before the court as a defendant


The Problem     

The problem is clear.

The answer is simple and easy to comprehend. The question is:  Will the politicians step forward and help solve the problem?

If the Government wishes to continue its fight against gangs, it must  make sure that the child is raised with an appropriate, protective home life that equips him to become a productive citizen.

The father, whether married or not, must be required to provide the necessary support and education for the child and the Government must enforce his duty to provide the support.


Delinquent Fathers

Fathers often fail or refuse to pay adequate support for their children. Such failure often leads to a child being raised in poverty or the mother having to go to work at a sub- standard job to support the child, thereby, also depriving the child of the mother’s nurturing support and assistance at home.

There are unconscionable situations which have led to single parent homes.

One Belizean I know boasted that he has fathered 13 children by 13 different women.

That leaves at least 12 children in fatherless homes. Such activity is referred to as “playing the field”


Who pays?                   There is an adage that refers to such activity. It is: “When you play, you pay!”

Good judgment and  human justice require the father to pay for the results of his playing or dalliances, which is to bear the cost of raising every child he produces.

The solution for the errant father who wilfully fails to provide support for his children is conviction and a sentence to a work camp, with one-half of his earnings at the camp, going to support his children and the other one-half to go to the cost of his confinement.

Belize has a procedure for enforcing the duty to pay child support. However, it is frequently ineffective.


Utter Frustration 

Mothers tell of filing action after action to enforce the payment of child support, without any effective result. Eventually they give up their attempt to obtain the support in utter frustration.

The problem is that on each occasion the father had not been served with process summons and therefore, the mother could not proceed in court.

Such failures have occurred even when the court has been provided with both the father’s home and work addresses.


The failure to serve process is a serious  breakdown of our legal system because it results in countless  being denied the support they are entitled to, and increases the potential for crime.

Nothing said here should reflect on  the army of fine fathers  who have loved and cared for their children.

Government’s failure to provide education for the youths is also a failure that has led to the increase in crime.

The Government has published that there are 30,000 children whose parents cannot afford the cost of putting them through the required 4 years of high school.


The Poor are People too

There is a fairly  easy solution that would probably assist at least 15,000 of those  30,000 children. The solution is to standardize school books used in the first through fourth forms.

School books for the first through fourth forms cost approximately $200.00 a semester. If the books were standardized, as they have been in the past, their cost could be reduced to $40- $50 a semester for such children.

The savings by parents, from the reduced costs of books, could provide the funds whereby, 15,000 of the 30,000 children could attend the first through fourth forms without additional financial assistance

Save on Schoolbooks 

In addition parents who are struggling financially to keep  a child in high school  would no longer have to struggle.

The  savings from standardizing of books would put an end to their struggle and allow them to put more food on the table.

The solutions is  not difficult or complex, but the politicians have done nothing. They say they are for the people, but ignore the fact that the poor are “people.”

Stand or Starve 


Children of the poor are deprived of the education they are entitled to and are put out onto the street when they are not equipped to sustain themselves.

Rather than starve they choose to join  and stand with the gang. Often they become criminals and their lives in the gangs are cut short.

Standardizing our schoolbooks could help 15,000 of our youths and keep them off the streets.

If the politicians really and sincerely want  to reduce the crime rate; they must first deal with the problem of broken families — the problem that leads to crime.

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