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Crime and Violence in Belize A 6 year old was shot 7 times with an M-16 rifle…… A nine year old primary

school student was killed as he slept at home An 15 year old got slain walking home from school….. A 19 year old girl gunned down in her home……

Night after night on television these are the disturbing headline stories that fill our homes, we see the grieving mothers, and we see young Belizeans being dragged to the courts to be charged with murder and other violent crimes. When children coming home from school are being shot on one of our busiest streets, we have a serious problem. When women are now being drawn into violence, whether as criminals or as direct victims, the situation is expanding to even more dangerous levels. Belize is officially the sixth most dangerous country in the world with an average of just over 39 homicides per 100,000 residents. The country has the second highest murder rate in the Caribbean, the third in Central America, and the fifth in the Americas. You might be wondering why a small country that has an approximate population of just over 400,000 people has been experiencing a rapid rise in crime over the past years? Belize remains a high-crime country due largely to the extremely high murder rate per capita. This begs to question, what is the government doing to address the situation with the crime and violence in Belize. The answer might seem far- fetched or even borderline insane. But, the government answer to the crime increase was to form a gang truce program. A total of 13 gangs were paid over 1 million dollars in 2012 to not engage in criminal activities This “truce” dramatically reduced intentional homicides. However, this caused controversy, with critics insisting there were far more deserving targets for the funds, The Belize government, struggling to meet national debt payments, has since ended its controversial gang truce program, a measure almost certain to result in increased violence and homicides in 2013. For the months of January and February 2013 alone, 21 murders have been recorded, that’s five more compared to last year during the same time frame.

Does anyone else see a problem with this scenario?

As a country, we must find a way to reach those elements in our society who are perpetuating this culture of violence. None of the government money went into finding long-term solutions

I still believe that together we can turn this around. Together we can look at the root causes. For us to be able to make significant progress in this matter we will first have to look at crime in the context of our fight against poverty. If we make it possible for our children to stay in school. More than half of children of high school age were not in the classroom. For that reason I personally don’t think the paying these gang units is the way to go. teenage pregnancy. address them. single parent families are the norm. Bars. Drug use. “ This evidence supports the argument that we must look at the problem in a more holistic manner. As difficult as this may be and in these darkest of days. Half the nation’s murder victims died on the Southside. pawnshops and gaming salons outnumbered schools 25 to 1 on the Southside. We must bring together our energies to achieve a meaningful change in this situation. alcohol abuse. for their parents to have jobs. then most of these young people will not be as attracted to the lure of the streets as they are today. for them to have access to the health system and for opportunities to be created for them to improve their quality of life. our country to the prized jewel that it is. “Unemployment on the Southside of the city was found to be at 35 percent. . We must let them know that Violence is not the way Crime is not the answer So please let us work together as a country to end the hate and stop the violence and restore our home.to address Belize's gang problem.and give our young people a chance to live.