“There is no denying that we are in a gun violence crisis,” Seventh-District candidate Mrs Perline R. Scatliffe-Leonard has stated, as she argued that gun violence is escalating and poses long-term consequences for future generations.
“We must do more to end gun violence in the British Virgin Islands as we can no longer bear the news of another one of our precious children being injured or perishing untimely on our soil,” Scatliffe-Leonard said in a statement today, March 1, 2023.
There have been two fatal shootings in the Virgin Islands so far this year.
Stigma on 7th & 8th Districts
According to the Independent candidate, the 7th and 8th Districts are devastated by much loss due to gun violence and that she continues to pray for healing so that the stigma that has been attached to her community is removed.
“We must set clear and strong standards that send a message that this community and Territory stand firm against all acts of violence. For this we need a stronger community, police, and social development partnership to focus on some of the more problematic issues, because “We Matter Too”! While we do not know, and may never find out, the exact reasons for these gun crimes, I implore our young men and women to find harmonious ways to resolve their issues. Put your weapons down.”
The former Director of Water and Sewerage Department (W&SD) said parents have an “awesome responsibility” to help guide and mold the youths.
She implored them to pay more attention to their children and they company they keep.
“We need to know where our children are hanging out, who are their friends, what they are doing, what they are watching on television, and most of all to reassure them that we love them.”
Yan Edwards, who was recently released from Her Majesty's Prison, was gunned down at a bar in East End on February 6, 2023.
‘Society has become numb’- Scatliffe-Leonard
Additionally, Scatliffe-Leonard highlighted that society has not been doing enough to tackle the problem of gun violence.
“I am concerned about how numb our society has become regarding gun violence.”
According to Scatliffe-Leonard, personal views and politics must be put aside, and a conscious effort must be made across every community in the territory, to speak out against gun violence.
“It is time to change the culture of violence, and strengthen our policies, to stop it. We must take a united stand. This is a Territorial effort. We must be proactive and not reactive in preventing violence while creating a safer BVI.”
To do this, Scatliffe-Leonard posited that the territory must recognise that gun violence is critical but preventable with everyone’s input. She said efforts must be made to reduce access to firearms, offer community support through the creation of intervention programmes and youth employment etc, identify and implement solutions.
She said law enforcers must build trust by developing relationships with the community.
Additionally, she said there is a need to expand the provision of social, emotional, and mental health support for everyone and offer greater community support for families, especially mothers with young children.
Calling to private corporations, Scatliffe-Leonard said: “We need your full support. We recognise that you have a social corporate responsibility within our Territory, and we ask that you join forces with us to address gun violence in this Territory.”