Living on the edge: Males falling off

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Friday, April 5, 2019

Our fledgling Belizean society is crying for help. It is hurting and it needs an urgent physical, economic, and cultural therapy. The signs and symptoms are undeniable as the hurt can be felt by the entire spectrum of our children, teens, women, and men. Lately, a terrible focus is on our young men and males in general. Are the young men of Belize being forgotten? Yes, even as society is stressed in general, it is highly noticeable that our men are succumbing to it ills and in dramatic fashion.

The apparent normalizing of the news is alarming in and of itself. Viewers get a nightly dose of a young man shot, young man’s body found, young man stabbed, young man beat up, young man found floating, young man arrested and young man involved in some accident. Incidentally and lately, the prevalence of motorcycles on our roads is causing safety concerns in all corners. The increase use of motorcycles is an economic phenomenon as well. The bikes are way more affordable today and more so than a regular four-wheeled vehicle. The idea too is that the gas mileage is way more affordable. Riding safely might be more expensive and time consuming—meaning, a person on a quality bike with a quality helmet, stopping when necessary and practicing.

But the increasing use of motorcycles by our young males is just a product of our economic times. Similarly, and an overused example, our prison population is NOT a microcosm of our population. The number of our males there is greater than of females. It is NOT comforting to say, ‘it has been such ever since.’ It is 2019 and we have to wherewithal to expect and do much better and lessen the prison population once and for all. Improving the cells is not an answer.

Belize’s last two decennial censuses have shown that overall there is a similar number of male to females in Belize. Our Primary school system is a reflection of that data as well. Going into secondary school there is an increasing disparity as the forms levels increase. In the University, females dominate in numbers. The job place is catching up rapidly with the fact that women are, in general, more educated than the males of Belize. It shouldn’t be. Gender equality really means equal opportunities for all Belizeans but our males are obviously limping towards success.

The sensationalism of these happenings is sometimes chilling. This does not help the grieving families. It is all not normal. Our male youths are living on the edge of their individual lives and lately even those attending University-level fall off.

It might be easy to share blame but that doesn’t ease the societal strain. A crack to this vicious cycle comes from sustainably increasing the opportunities that our young workers have. They need real and lasting jobs to pay their higher education and to build the nation via creative industry and not by population only. Crime doesn’t disappear from a society. What can be done is to remove it from crisis level.

Lately there has been a concerted effort to increase the level of policing in the country. Sad! It is definitely illogical that this is the answer to crime. The powers that be need to place efforts in the endeavours that tend to peace, social justice, liberty, national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety and useful knowledge. The answer is there repeated by us since childhood. If there is anything that we should normalize is the expansion of those words. They are truly deep and would require volumes of books to develop each.

Our women today are coming to the forefront of society. Naturally enough, I would suggest that one of their successes can be the pulling of our Belizean males as far from the edge as possible. Yes, it is a collective effort. Belizean progress depends on all.