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Successful rally against youth violence

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The youth of the Anglican Churches in the Diocese of the North Eastern Caribbean and Aruba, in collaboration with the National Youth Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda, held a huge rally on Saturday against youth violence in the nation’s schools and communities.

The event began with a march at around 3pm from the Rising Sun Grounds, and ended in a rousing rally at the Deanery Grounds.

Of course, there were a number of inspiring placards designed to convey messages of peace, brotherly love, conflict resolution and unity, and a platform of outstanding speakers, including a youth who was the victim of senseless violence, and Shahein Fitzpatrick, a social and community activist with strong Christian values, from the National Youth Parliament.

Fitzpatrick shared, “For the past year, youth violence has increased. And many persons, and stakeholders within society – from the church, to the government, to civil society organisations, teachers, ordinary law-abiding citizens, and counsellors have been asking what is the root issue, what is the cause?

“Some have said it is poverty, while others have pointed to the decriminalisation of marijuana. Some have suggested that it is unstable and dysfunctional households, whilst others posit that it is the result of underlining mental issues within the youth.

“Yet still others are of the opinion that it is peer pressure, while some are convinced that it is the vulgar and violent music, or all of the above . . . but the deeper root issue is the natural evil within ourselves, with which we all struggle . . . and the deep hurt and pain in us, and our cry for help.”

Fitzpatrick added, “I was happy when the church said they wanted to partner with us. Because we have reached the stage where we need immediate intervention, and all hands are needed on deck to nurture and encourage and direct our youth, before it is too late.”