Baby gangsters follow dads’ path

February 23, 2021

Boys, as young as eight years old, are reportedly joining criminal gangs that are constantly recruiting youngsters to do its bidding. According to social scientist Dr Herbert Gayle, the young boys are involved in hiding guns and playing the role of 'spotters'.

"Eight is generally where gang violence starts, where gang membership starts. A lot of people don't know. I have met a number of eight year olds that say dem wah be like dah yute deh, or wah be a part of dah group deh," Gayle said.

The researcher, who lectures anthropology at The University of the West Indies, Mona, was reacting to a revelation from the police in the St Catherine North Police Division that a boy, 16, who was arrested last week, is believed to be leader of the Bed Bug Gang. He said that he was not surprised by the allegations from the police.

"In terms of gang leaders, the youngest I have seen is 13, and as it relates to a gang member it's eight," Gayle said.

The researcher told THE STAR that a lot of the youngsters who get into criminality are like "second generation" gangsters, adding that "They come from a family of crime and violence already".

"Twenty-five per cent of the children of gunmen are going to be gunmen. And this is not only in Jamaica, we have done this study in Trinidad and Belize," Gayle said.

Top three reasons

"As deadly as that profession is, a quarter of the sons are still going to follow the same path. One of the top three reasons a person becomes a criminal is because he has a criminal in his family that he admires. So separate from food and trauma, the next thing in line is being the descendant of a criminal."

Gayle warned that a society that lacks proper family values and does not provide hope for its citizens would continue to suffer from criminality. He said criminality will persist in Jamaica if nothing is done to ensure a more efficient family structure and the implementation of stronger, prolonged social programmes.

"You are not going to find a youth involved in crime who have a stable family. Out of the 207 repeated killers I have studied, we have only three of them (Belize and Jamaica) coming from a stable family. And that can be discussed as mental health, or undiagnosed mental health issues, or biological issues beyond our research," Gayle said.

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