Parents fearful after youth gang threatens son’s life

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By Robert A. Emmanuel

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As youth gang violence continues to be hotly debated by Antiguans and Barbudans, one father spoke about his family’s personal challenges in protecting their son.

According to the alleged victim’s father, his 15-year-old son has been targeted by gang members on two separate occasions—the first at his secondary school, and the second attack occurred that occurred at the stadium weeks ago.

He explained that his son was reportedly seeking to protect another individual who, at the time, was the target of the attack.

The father stated following that incident, he received a video featuring a coffin and a message threatening the life and safety of his son.

He explained that he has since increased security around his son following the threat and that he has been removed from all his extracurricular activities, including swimming.

“My wife takes him to school in the morning and at 1:30pm she or my daughter is at the school to pick him up,” the distraught father explained.

The victim’s mother also spoke of her concerns as she alleged that videos and photos of her son accompanied by a threatening message were being circulated online.

“I was really shaken up, so I started to make phone calls; I called his father and said he needed to get my son out of Antigua because I really don’t want anything to go wrong with him,” she said.

The father has called on lawmakers to address the law that prevents young perpetrators that commit certain acts from being apprehended.

“The actual law of the country is what prohibits police officers from doing their duties, because the amount of paperwork you have to get from the court to convict a juvenile,” he said.

Last week, Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin expressed the intention of the government to review the Child Justice Act—although how quickly they could pass any bill to adequately address the issue before elections in March is questionable.

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