Activist calls for proactive approach to crime

| 19/07/2018 | 55 Comments
Cayman News Service

Michael Myles

(CNS): Former government social worker Michael Myles, who is a vociferous advocate for a more proactive approach to tackling the causes of crime at an earlier stage, is calling on the current administration to intervene with vulnerable children and young people before they go off the rails. In the face of rising crime, he is warning that the Cayman Islands must have a more proactive approach to reducing crime rather than addressing it after the fact. “We start to address crime when a child has actually committed a crime. It’s too late then and that’s our biggest issue. There are warning signs,” he told CNS.

“I never went to [court] and saw a kid I didn’t work with ten years ago or five years ago,” he said, noting a recent case where a young person is suspected of committing a robbery. “Did I see that coming? At eight I saw it coming for him — at eight! He is just one of hundreds that I have dealt with,” said Myles, who for years has been raising concerns about the government’s failure to address criminality at a much earlier stage.

Over the last two months Grand Cayman has seen a spike in crime, but Myles warns that the root cause of crime needs to be tackled and hasn’t been for the last two decades.

During his time as a social worker, he identified behavioural issues, such as anger, in children from both the private and public education systems. He said intervention in these cases is needed before the children grow up and become susceptible to crime. He warned that the emotional challenges young people face stems from trauma, such as sexual and physical abuse and parental neglect.

“We have a major mental health issue on our hands. The majority of children that are getting involved with criminal behaviour today are smoking ganja and have either significant learning deficiencies or mental health issues. Are we going to address that? No,” Myles added.

The relevant multitude of government departments need to work together and develop a plan, he urged. Various agencies deal with different sections of the root causes of crime but Myles said they need to communicate with each other and pool resources.

The police are “not into prevention”, he said. “They’re not going to stop anything from happening. We have to address it from a wider perspective rather than each individual department trying to do a thing. There is nothing strategic about what we are doing right now — nothing.”

According to the latest statistics issued in December 2017, youth criminal cases have increased from 49 in 2016 to 90 in 2017. Meanwhile, HMP Northward is full and the government is now housing serving prisoners at the Immigration Detention Centre, which Myles said was a step in the wrong direction.

“I don’t see us addressing crime in this country. What I see us doing is building a bigger prison, or another prison. We’re definitely going to need another prison,” he warned.

Law enforcement sees firsthand the impact of juvenile crime. Jacqueline Carpenter, a spokesperson for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, said young people were committing very serious crimes, and in some cases, at a really young age.

“There is an obvious need to devote some attention and resources to addressing youth crime prevention,” she said, noting that this was one of the RCIPS’ strategic goals.

Carpenter said that following the launch of the community policing plan in February, officers are integrating into communities across the islands and some have started to work with young people in their areas. As an example, she noted that Bodden Town beat officers have started to work with the district’s children’s home to intervene with the runaways.

Even before the community policing initiative, officers were going into the schools for Youth Crime Prevention days. The RCIPS now also holds events at the Black Pearl Skate Park, where officers can be found engaging with children and teenagers to present an alternative view of law enforcement.

Noting that community development is an area of growth for the RCIPS, Carpenter said that instead of just becoming involved at the end of a process, “there needs to be more prevention early on in the process. When people are younger, they are more impressionable.”

There is some help at hand. Last September the Family Resource Centre began offering an intervention programme for families with children aged six to eleven who display bad behaviour, such as bullying.

Stop Now and Plan (SNAP) programme facilitator Miles Ruby said, “We need to catch these kids when they are young …because when they get older, it’s harder to change their behaviour and the price tag is bigger.”

She said the SNAP programme teaches children how to calm themselves when they experience emotions such as anger and sadness, while coaching parents how to intervene. “What we’ve found is that after the thirteen weeks the family relationship has improved; there is less arguing and more pro social behaviour.”

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Category: Crime, Crime Prevention

Comments (55)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Criminality is a choice of the selfish, lazy and morally weak.

  2. Rick says:

    Michael, many people who have served with you over the years know of your passion and commitment to this cause. You served countless young people who had no options except the help you offered and you remain involved. Cayman owes you a huge debt, despite the negative commentary of those who do not know any better. I agree with all your comments also. No one knows the issue better than you do, period. A huge thank you from a parent and may you find success in your new professional life.

  3. Anonymous says:

    All well and good but once they commit a crime, tough, they should be locked up more often and for longer. When criminal scumbags are in jail they cannot harm good honest citizens.

    • Anonymous says:

      You 12.06 pm with a comment like that, are not exactly a model citizen! You are a pre-historic moron!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have also been working with Cayman’s youth for decades. Mr Myles would agree that the issues surrounding Cayman’s Youth crime is complex and not a simple government fix. Many countries are struggling with this issue. The fix lies in a sustained community collaboration, parents, courts, social services, education, mental health and manpower services. Stop the reactive approach or else we would be back here again blaming our overworked underpaid teachers. Teachers are where the rubber meets the road and most are underprepared for the latest generation coming into schools.

    • Anonymous says:

      You mention the poor teachers 2.03pm but the problem is partly that too many Caymanian parents seem to expect the unfortunate teachers to straighten out the bent kids thrown up by bad parenting. It starts at home! Simple.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s sad that the focus is on bad kids when the real issue is bad parents.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or put another way, the best long term crime prevention strategy is to legalise abortion.

  6. Spaz says:

    Behind you Michael 100% We need to stop importing garbage and that applies to this Police leviathan which needs to be defunded and also reduce the amount of foreign nationals employed in it immediately! The monies recovered from these cuts can be used for real crime reduction policies and not this police mumbo jumbo which is actually increasing crime in Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Stop importing garbage” ?? Why bring ice to North Pole? Blame the expats for all problems Caymanian again! A hell of a lot of Caymanians need to look in the mirror rather than seek to blame everyone else for their social ills!

  7. Anonymous says:

    About 10 years ago I heard similar comments from Claira Range when she was Director of Eagle House. Some of the boys in her care had experienced standards of up-bringing that were third-world. Effectively what she seemed to me to be saying was that nobody had given a damn about them until they were arrested and locked up.

    There seems to be underlying attitude of denial here – a belief that things like this don’t happen here – that is reflected in the abysmal state of child welfare services on these islands.

    I’m not saying that changing this would solve all the problems but taking a realistic attitude to the situation wouldn’t do any harm. The only real issue I can see that needs to be addressed is where do you find the staff to do this? Mr Myles’ attitude is, to put it politely, not widely shared on these islands and finding people with the experience, training and commitment to actually do the work (and do it properly) is not going to be easy.

  8. Born Caymanian says:

    We don’t listen to our young but come with the same ole donkey solutions:

    – Call the police on them every time they go out of line (to punish / arrest)
    – Push the story of Jesus on them (that they must follow a church code or else go to hell)
    – Beat them with a belt or stick (instead of reasoning and talking to them)
    – Advocate sending them to Prison!
    – Preach to them about obeying the law (serving the government) – despite the same laws, the same government is contributing to their economic and social problems!
    – Leave them alone to sort out their own affairs and problems – even watch them go into bars, clubs, get hook on drugs and say nothing! (neglect them)
    – Read news articles like this one. Gossip. And when you can donate money in programs and government agencies to help them – instead of YOU devoting your “personal time” one-on-one with young people you meet. Your personal interaction is more worth than money can buy!

    Even if a young person you know lives down your street, it is courageous and compassionate to go to them and befriend them. Just befriend them – dont teach, dont lecture them, dont advise them. Just show them you are an added friend to their list of friends! Alot of these youngsters need to feel belonged before they will ever consider listening to you. In their eyes you have to earn their respect to be listened to.

    *So Cayman, these are our solutions it seems! The same ole record player repeating the same ole stuff. There is no real God in our actions! There is no love on our part. It seems we got it all figured out what they need – but we refuse to take the time to listen to them and try to understand them! And so the cycle continues.

  9. #EYESWIDESHUT says:

    The truth Michael Myles speaks offends every politician who do not want to deal with facts but rather pretend they are working on solutions by sanctioning more reports filled with recommendations that have not been implemented by those in charge of the system. A failed public education system and youth services programs for over thirty years plus a break down in family values have greatly contributed to a generation of violence and anti-social behavior successive governments would rather ignore until it reaches the good neighbourhoods or impacts their lives directly.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This issue needs too be addressed as early as five yesrs of age.

    • Anonymous says:

      In fact even five is too late. Many of these children are known to services even younger.The Early Intervention Program is failing some children and there is no one on this island who wants to tackle that thorny issue.

  11. Mike says:

    The Govt. would do well to listem to Michael Myles and see what can be done to work on the youth problem as he proposes, and please, no committees or foreign consultants and wasted money. Here you have a native son with the training, experience, AND the passion to see the problem properly addressed.

    • SSM345 says:

      Watler Roofing and Metal going make kabillions shortly when we all get bars on our windows because crime down according to our Govt. Mikey barking up a dead tree that needs a million dollar Consultants Report that’s also ignored.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Michael I hope you can get it accross to all the people out there screaming for legalising of ganja that that would be a huge mistake. Yes, I know they can get it now, but legalising it will only open up the floodgates wider and cause more problems for our youth. IT CANNOT HAPPEN!!

    • Anonymous says:

      It would actually benefit the youth if the money from the profit of legal ganja went to schools and after school/summer programs. You not seeing the advantages are holding this island back.

    • meh says:

      if they can get it now, what would legalizing it do?!
      if it was legal and regulated, they couldnt just go to a dispensary and purchase, because they would need an ID…..similarly like they need for alchol.
      Also why are we pointing the light at ganga and not at alcohol? I think more children have access to liquor than they do weed.

    • Dunz says:

      Is this from research, documented evidence or a figment of your imagination.
      Fact: Holland legalised it in Amsterdam as well as registered prostitution. Drug dependency dropped along with crime.
      Fact every country that is hard on drugs has a very high murder rate and drug problem.
      Major fact. I do not smoke, drink tea, coffee and drink a few glasses of alcohol per year. Therefore, I do not give a dam.

      • Mike says:

        AND, as long as it is illegal, the inflated profits from the trade fuel the criminals tanks. It is a no-brainer. Why can’t we learn the costly lessons of earlier prohibition in the US? It made the Mafia in the US.

    • Anonymous says:

      Legalisation would have the opposite effect I believe. Liscenced retailers wouldn’t want to sell to minors and risk not being able to sell it anymore. The black market doesn’t care who they sell it to. Plus the duty from the sell could be put into education

    • George Towner says:

      I think ganja is misused because its illegal! And putting a young person in prison for ganja with other serious offenders does worse to the youngster. They cant get a job! The whole system is against them. No wonder why they have to rebel and commit crimes. Stop blaming this ganja!

    • Anonymous says:

      Anonymous at 3.34 pm from all my reading on this subject, I know of no country that has experienced a rise in drug consumption after legalisation. Maybe because those criminals who push it and promote it are out of business? You reading too much Sunday propaganda. Do a bit of research and get yourself an informed opinion!

    • Messenjah says:

      You just contradicted yourself. Of course they can get ganja illegally and what legalization will do is make it more difficult for those under 21 to obtain. Research legalization and see the drop in crime and other social issues. Don’t perpetuate the great lie that has been told for a century.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Strikes me as the kind of guy that has a lot to say and it is his way or no way or another mouthpiece with a political agenda. Tell me?

    • Anonymous says:

      Or maybe he actually gives a damn

    • Michael Myles says:

      This is Michael Myles. My number is 939-1301. At anytime you would like to meet to discuss my political affiliation or agenda, please let me know.

      My agendas has been to ensure that our people don’t end up in the criminal justice system; my daughters live in a country that they don’t have to watch over their shoulder; my mother can age without fear that someone could harm her; that the people of country can thrive for generations; to give back to our country of all that has been invested in me.

      Anyone who know me can tell you that I have no polictical agenda. If I did, I would have been a politician a long time ago.

      The research I have, has been presented to successive governments and the private sector. It is not my research. It has been commissioned by successive governments, paid for by your tax dollars. I can send you all the reports your tax dollar has been wasted on.

      Any discussions I have had publicly or privately has been based on that research on crime, education and welfare in the country and the recommendations proposed for the past 20 years.

      I have also worked for 25 years with our most vulnerable children and their families. I have never made any statement that I know it all or it has to be this way or another. I have encouraged the public and private sector to implement the recommendations that the people of the country has paid for through all the research we have conducted.

      At anytime you believe you have a better solutions, please meet with neighborhood politician to provide another recommendation on how we reduce or prevent youngsters from becoming criminals, reduce teenage pregnancy, improve parenting, reduce school drop outs etc.

      Our country need more folks like yourself to speak up and get involve with solutions.

    • Anonymous says:

      See Mr. Myles replied to you right there. Now Mr./Ms. keyboard warrior please send him an email and criticize him there. Make sure to leave on your ID also.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The unfortunate reality of the feminized school system and broken home policy, is that boys are growing up without Father, and male role models, while we routinely and proudly raise these “strong independent women” who continue the broken home cycle. The White expat then shows up on our doorstep and bullies us out of our land, and cripples our society further, driving up costs, and making it financially harder, and thus driving up crime. The snap programme is just a bandaid with no longterm solutions. It’s a joke. The road to hell was paved with great intentions, and hell hath no fury like a country of broken men.

    • Strong women raise strong men says:

      You blame women and white people and fail to see the level of ignorance in your own words. Maybe it’s people like you… blaming everyone else instead of taking accountability for ones self is the real culprit.

      • Anonymous says:

        Strong women do not raise strong men any more. The era of strong women was lost about 50 years ago with the rise of feminism and the “fake strong woman”. Now it’s weak women, failing everyone around them, and raising broken homes, and creating the problem. The crime wave is the output of such a ridiculous concept as modern feminism. Easy to blame men. Very difficult to look at the cause – feminism.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh here we go again. Blame the white expats for the bad behaviour of the Caymanian criminal children brought up by stupid, careless and lazy parents who all smoke too much ganja and are teaching their children that a life of crime is better than trying hard at school and working hard in a good job. Ignorance, laziness, a life or crime and being quick to blame it all on someone else, breeds children from the same mold. You are only going to see it all get much worse.

    • Cess Pita says:

      3.29pm So now it’s only the white expat that causes our problems, not West Indian expats who are models of good behaviour and have never held a gun or imported drugs or raped our women.

    • Anonymous says:

      When you say bullied do you mean paid for to a willing seller?

    • George Towner says:

      Its not just “white” expats and a money system thing, bro! These youth are being raised from broken homes and lousy parents. And yes, a percentage of them can be blamed on “black” parents … like your family ???

    • Anonymous says:

      Amen brother

  15. Anonymous says:

    How about helping people stop having these children that they really do not want to look after????

    • Anonymous says:

      Free birth control pills too. But…. they need sex education here because all they know is how the men in their life treat women like a revolving door. No respect when married or exclusively dating. The children see their dad come in and out their life when he wants and the mom probably saw that with her father and mother too. Cycle cont.

    • Anonymous says:

      not just condoms free birth control pills.

    • Anonymous says:

      And legalise abortion for unwanted pregnancy. The Bible has no place in family planning.

    • Anonymous says:

      Free Willy!!!

      • Vote Percy 2021 says:

        That right there is the whole problem. As a wise “German” once said, ” That’s the key to the whole f’n problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      The main problem is, too many children without fathers. Stop the baby machines from infesting the country with children they are not able or capable of taking care of, then sitting on NAU door step expecting assistance to feed, clothe and provide accommodation. They are governments and the country’s liability.

    • Anon says:

      What are you talking about! Contraceptives are available everywhere on this rock. We are having babies not because of an absence of condoms, but because of irresponsible people! And what makes people responsible and learn to control their sexual drive, is proper upbringing and education.I don’t care how much free condoms you give to young teenage guys, do you seriously think they will keep a tab on the number of condoms they use everytime they have sex?! Irresponsible teenagers?! Are you serious!

      There is no quick fix around it – you have to educate them and teach them to abstain! Giving them free condoms will do little!

      • Anonymous says:

        Everybody say it with me very slowly…. preaching abstinence does not work.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes they are available – behind a counter where you have to ask a clerk for them. Have you seen a young persons doing that? I know of a young male who was refused BECAUSE he was young!
        Agree that education is also vital. But making condoms freely available (every bar, school, gas station, etc.) would greatly increase the chances that they actually get used.
        The issue is that persons without a “proper upbringing” are creating offspring without “proper upbringing” and so on and so on.

  16. Anonymous says:


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