Belize has been infested with an outbreak of crime and violence affecting the country by bringing fear into both tourists and us Belizean presently; it appeared to be at its peak last year. The reason for the infestation of the criminals are many but the principal and most evident of them all would be the increasing rate of poverty that Belize has been experiencing, In addition to this would be the high rate of unemployment that exists in our society brought about by lack of education. This causes some individuals to see no other means to survival but to resort to their last alternative, crime.
Some may argue that the cause for crime is due to psychology of criminals, their mental state or drugs. Crime in its simplest term is defines as any act that defies constitutional law and is separated into two main categories: a minor offence which as referred to as misdemeanors and serious acts which as referred to as felonies. A crime can range from simple offences such as public drinking to murder which is considered to be one of the most serious of crimes which claimed one hundred and twelve (112) lives in 2011 according to the annual police release statistics report.
It is important to note that not all crime is related to poverty, although there are many who see crime as a means of survival. There are others who indulge in criminal acts simply for fun and pleasere, such as members of color gangs, mainly Crips represented by the color blue and Bloods represented by the color red, which are based on American color gangs. These gangs choose to live a life of crime and violence for personal pleasure. Unfortunately young Belizeans, mainly, teenagers account for most f the criminal acts that occur in Belize. The primary reason that should be taken into consideration is poor home conditions and lack of education, which plays a major part in the cause of young criminals because many of these young men mostly, come from homes where resources are very limited and their parents may take little or no responsibility for them. Many of them on the other hand are dropouts or those who cannot afford the cost of education, which results in them finding unconstructive things to do with their time. Idle time is the devils playground” and “idle hands are the devils workshop”, are both phrases I heard many times by my elders while growing up, and are words which I believe to be very true, especially in the case of those facing poverty.
They are the ones facing the cold heart of today’s society and in order to survive they resort to crimes and violence as a mean to survive. A job can seem to be one of the hardest things to find and even when a job is found the pay is not always sustainable, especially for those without a proper education for example a primary school degree worker earns the minimum wage in Belize which is little above 3. 0 Bz$ per hour. The uses of both legal and illegal drugs often contribute to crime and ultimately poverty. In Belize where the legal age for drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco is eighteen, there are many who indulge in these activities from a much younger age due to lack of implementation of stores who sell these drugs to underage people. Drugs affect the psychological aspect of a person and in the case of certain drugs the way how an individual thinks. Over the past two years, personally I witnessed firsthand underage individual who due to intoxication from drugs and alcohol, commit serious crimes such as; theft and attempted murder.
People affected by poverty often resort to the use of drugs such as alcohol, tobacco and marijuana which are the most accessible of all drugs in Belize. I asked the question; why do you drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes excessively, to a man I know who faces poverty daily from my village, he answered that life for him is extremely hard and be he uses those drugs as a way to cope with his daily struggles. Drugs are substances that cause young people to get bonded, and that bond often times cause them to do whatever it takes, which in some cases are criminal activities to supply themselves with the drugs they desire.
Getting out of poverty should then be focused on the aspects that not only deal with the economy and getting people jobs, but the root causes of crime in our country which are mainly; drugs, lack of education and crime. Prisons should be focused on and the rehabilitation process should be altered to create a more positive individual by providing them with education and trade skills before placing them back into society, as opposed to our present system we have in place which just has them serving their time and then release them into the same situations which got them there in the first place and causes a never ending cycle. With that said the root factors that contribute to this devastating problem in society should be improved so that not only our present but also our future generations have a brighter future.