“Adults, are we the problem or are you?”

I’m sure by now everyone in Bermuda has received the videos of the chaos that occurred at John Smith’s Bay. Taking a look at social media over the past few days there has been major outrage, and I agree, it has been warranted. Who would want to see brawls occurring? Especially when we are in the middle of a pandemic. I am a teenage girl and the problem I have is that the older generations are pointing the blame and showing blatant disgust at the youth, but the youths are not the ones who should carry the burden of being the problem. These young adults are simply a by-product of the cards that they were dealt. This is a systemic issue and there are so many contributing factors as to why these young men, the men in my generation, are the way that they are.

A lot of these young boys are trying to survive with the things that they were dealt in life. Many had dreams in life and simply have become another statistic because they were not given the proper tools as young children and teenagers.

How are these young men to become upstanding adults when they have not been provided the opportunities to do so? The system has failed the young black men of Bermuda. It seems to me that if a boy does not have the potential to represent Bermuda in sports or do not want to work in international business or law, they do not have many choices and often end up turning to the streets. What can you really expect?

In the Bermuda public education system, some of these boys just get pushed through the system and then tossed aside. But then the ‘adults’ want to turn around years later and condemn them for the same behaviour that adults could have prevented had they did their job. School is not just a place to learn it is the place where one learns life lessons. Educators have to take this into account.

I watched boys who had so much potential, but didn’t function well in the traditional education system, just be thrown in classes and create chaos in the classrooms because they are not being properly stimulated. These boys were given suspension, often out of school, and they are left at home unsupervised to get into trouble.

The Bermuda Public School System has shut down the only facility that was in place for suspended students and expected children to govern themselves accordingly when they have been already learned from a young age that they are not valued.

These young boys have been stripped of a lot of the opportunities and positive outlets that older generations had. Can you name any youth clubs that are still in existence now? Youth centres across the island have shut down. YouthNet has recently shut down—another outlet for young black men that was in place to prevent the same things that we witnessed over the weekend. They closed the youth centres where children could go to and stay out trouble. So where do you think they are going now? And what are they getting into?

Some of these young boys could have been saved from the streets had the Government funded programmes for displaced youth. Many of these boys came from broken homes and the people at these centres often were positive role models. Closing them down left these young black men to turn to the men in their neighbourhoods that nobody wanted them to be.

The same people on Facebook complaining about the current state of our generation are the same ones that will put their phones down after writing a long post bitching and not pull their weight in the community. Quiet frankly, they have no reason to complain and should shut up because if you’re not trying to find a solution, you’re a part of the problem. It takes a village, but it seems as if you adults are the same ones screaming for change but turn your backs on the same people that you sit up and have the nerve to write a status about. MAKE IT MAKE SENSE!! We don’t need anybody ridiculing us. If that’s what you plan to do, then save it. These young men need love and guidance, not judgement.

Parents are to be to blame as well. I’m not saying that these boys shouldn’t take any sort of responsibility for their actions, but had parents laid the foundation for their children many of them would not have been in trouble now. Poor parenting skills are a major problem. Mothers saying, “not my son” and continue to make excuses for their ill-behaved children when it’s just lazy parenting.

Speaking of parents, let’s address the broken homes and how many of these young men’s fathers were senselessly murdered or sitting in jail for drug charges. And we can’t ignore how many of our fathers who have walked away from us. Yeah, let’s talk about how mothers are left to raise their sons and are working multiple jobs just to make ends meet because of the ridiculously high standard living in Bermuda. The Government needs to do better. The time that older generations got to have with their parents, most do not have the luxuries to do that because mama works day and night shifts and by the time he gets home mama is kissing him goodbye, just so he can eat.

Some children come from a ‘decent’ home and despite parents doing the best they can, some youths are still determined to do what they want to do anyway. But if you lay the proper foundation these children will know not to get into trouble because their parents gave them the tools to avoid situations.

Older generations are quick to say that young adults are ‘spoiled’ and ‘entitled’. Or that we do not value anything. The youth can only value what has been given to them, and when I say this, I do not mean material things. Adults seem to confuse having nice things to having the proper tools and opportunities in life.

Some of the girls in my generation are a part of the problem. They condone the behaviour; they sit up and laugh about the violence but then these same young women will be bawling at funeral of a guy killed by violence or while their ‘men’ are lying in a hospital bed—
but aren’t trying to prevent it. I do not think that it is women’s responsibility to mould these young men into proper adults but if young women had higher expectations of males, maybe these young men will take a second look at their behaviours.

It has annoyed me to see adults saying to put young people on an earlier curfew when changing the curfew for a certain demographic will not solve anything. One of the incidents that occurred over the weekend happen in broad daylight. Are you planning to keep us inside at all times? You cannot lockdown a whole demographic due to a couple of bad apples, that would be unfair to the thousands of people that were not fighting.

Furthermore, these adults shouting for curfew for young adults are coming from a selfish place. They don’t care that these children are fighting, they just don’t want their freedom stripped from them. Would they even care about enforcing a curfew had there not been a pandemic? No!

Speaking of a pandemic, what is really expected of people, young and old to do in the current climate? There’s racial tension across the world right now. It is the middle of a pandemic; everyone has been confined to their homes since early March. Most of these people have lost their summer jobs, have no money and plenty of free time. What are young people to do if they don’t have any money or something to keep them occupied? Let’s be honest!

At the end of the day there are so many contributing factors as to why things are the way they are. Adults and the youth are all a part of the problem. Its counterproductive to point the blame at young adults while not taking responsibility for the lack of guidance.

And to my female peers, hold these young men accountable. Stop condoning this behaviour! Do not stand by and watch these boys fight.

And to the young men out there, channel your struggles into the things you love!

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