Minister Ming On Addressing Gang Violence

November 28, 2021 | 4 Comments

“We will not police our way out of this problem,” Minister of National Security Renee Ming said, adding that ”we must assist those who are in gangs with a way out and tackle the root causes.”

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday [Nov 26] the Minister provided an update on the work the Ministry of National Security is doing to address gang violence.

Minister Ming said, “We will not police our way out of this problem. We must assist those who are in gangs with a way out and tackle the root causes. We must provide opportunities to the next generation that makes being a productive and law abiding member of society a better alternative than joining a gang.

“Through our actions, and in some cases lack of action, as a community, we have created a gap that gangs are filling for our young people. The Ministry of National Security’s Gang Violence Reduction Team [GVRT] offers several programmes that attempt to address this gap.

“Most recently, the Redemption Farm programme has provided 15 men with a 30 week work placement. 10 out 15 trainees have now transitioned into full-time or part-time employment or into education pursuits.

“The GVRT administers programmes within every level of our public school system that provide pro-social networks for students at medium to high risk for anti-social behavior. Over the course of the summer, the GVRT partnered with local companies to provide mentorships and internships to students involved in these programmes. The primary objective is to encourage a transition away from anti-social behavior into a life of meaningful work.

“There is no one size fits all and each at risk youth will be assessed to match the right services and programs to meet their needs,” the Minister said, adding “we must work to rebuild the sense of community that has eroded in recent years.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to provide an update on work of the Ministry of National Security in addressing gang violence. Specifically I will address some of the root causes, our existing gang violence reduction programmes, proposed programmes and our multi Ministry approach.

Mr. Speaker, there are many reasons why individuals join a gang. Unfortunately it is a lifestyle that is glamorized in television, movies and music. A gang provides identity, respect, security, a sense of belonging and support that they may not be getting at home or from the community. The reality is that for some, it provides a more attractive lifestyle than being a law abiding productive member of society. Gangs offer social support systems and the opportunity for financial gains that our young people are struggling to find through traditional home and work pathways.

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that many of our young people are the victims of generations of economic inequality in Bermuda. The breakdown of the family unit, poor education and employment opportunities make it very difficult to break the cycle and enable social mobility.

Mr. Speaker, we will not police our way out of this problem. We must assist those who are in gangs with a way out and tackle the root causes. We must provide opportunities to the next generation that makes being a productive and law abiding member of society a better alternative than joining a gang.

Mr. Speaker, through our actions, and in some cases lack of action, as a community, we have created a gap that gangs are filling for our young people. The Ministry of National Security’s Gang Violence Reduction Team [GVRT] offers several programmes that attempt to address this gap. Most recently, the Redemption Farm programme has provided 15 men with a 30 week work placement. 10 out 15 trainees have now transitioned into full-time or part-time employment or into education pursuits.

Mr. Speaker, the GVRT administers programmes within every level of our public school system that provide pro-social networks for students at medium to high risk for anti-social behavior. Over the course of the summer, the GVRT partnered with local companies to provide mentorships and internships to students involved in these programmes. The primary objective is to encourage a transition away from anti-social behavior into a life of meaningful work.

Mr. Speaker, Our goals are:

  • To change the pattern of behavior of individuals involved in group and gang violence, and reintegrate them back into mainstream society.
  • To prevent preteens and adolescents from joining gangs and engaging in anti-social behavior by reestablishing positive social bonds.
  • To create opportunities of employment for young people and individuals who have previously not been employable due to anti-social backgrounds.
  • To connect at-risk youth, men and women with the necessary helping agencies that will aid in addressing mental and social health issues.
  • To place more focus on fostering and sustaining positive interpersonal relationships.

Mr. Speaker¸ GVRT clients carry life histories marked by poverty, violence, marginalization and intergenerational abuse and neglect. Many have incarceration experiences or have pending charges and cases. The young men we support face additional challenges presented by institutionalization, discrimination, community judgement, major educational gaps, negligible work history, and criminal records/ criminal proceedings which can preclude employment. For many of our clients, substances are a way of coping with the pain of gang involvement, homelessness, and mental health issues.

Mr. Speaker, to meet our goals we have are taking a multi-agency approach that includes the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Social Development and Seniors, Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports, Ministry of Legal Affairs as well as the Ministry of Public Works. We will also be partnering with third sector agencies and employers to provide additional services and opportunities for our at risk youth including:

  • Counseling services
  • Individual programs of social support and care
  • Education assistance
  • Mentorship
  • Pathways to further education
  • Opportunities for social mobility
  • Careers guidance
  • Family counseling and support
  • Financial assistance
  • Employment opportunities

Mr. Speaker, there is no one size fits all and each at risk youth will be assessed to match the right services and programs to meet their needs.

Mr. Speaker, we must work to rebuild the sense of community that has eroded in recent years.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (4)

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  1. puzzled says:

    This woman has no clue.

    She knows nothing, ziltch about what she speaks.

  2. Toodle-oo says:

    “Mr. Speaker, the fact is that many of our young people are the victims of generations of economic inequality in Bermuda.”

    Things were FAR worse in the first few decades of the 20th century , why didn’t this problem exist then ?

    “The breakdown of the family unit (that’s no-one’s fault except the family’s)

    “poor education” and who’s fault is that ?

  3. Joe Bloggs says:

    “We must assist those who are in gangs with a way out and tackle the root causes.”

    Gangs offer the young and uneducated money and power. How are you going to counter that? Are you going to give away money and economic power?

  4. Pamdebear63 says:

    I hear the same “root causes” rhetoric going around the world today. We are beyond the fallacy that if we determine the root cause solutions will abound. I must say all of the mentioned determinants listed, most humans were subjected to some or most of the social ills and still, not a gang member. They are choosing the lifestyle because they love the easy money and they have no morals. If God were brought back into early education and morals like the ten commandments were taught this problem would almost completely go away except for people who choose a life of crime because it is EASY.

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