Making better choices

The news that three young men attempted to robbed Republic Bank spread like wildfire on Tuesday when pandemonium broke out at the Water Street, Georgetown location. What was more shocking was, as the facts unfolded, it was revealed that these young men that planned the foiled robbery were educated, employed young adults, who were admired among their peers. More shocking was that – up to the time of the attempted robbery – two of the three ‘bandits’ were earning reasonable salaries for the positions they held at their places of employment. Then what led them to think that the world of crime is profitable as against an accomplished career? Sections of the media have reported that the slain robber, Elton Wray, was motivated to commit the robbery by his desire to get quick cash to facilitate an overseas trip to visit his girlfriend.
The cliché statement that young people think they are immortal and invulnerable to harm is often heard and this postulation about the minds of youths is expressed as a platitude in countless efforts to educate young people about making better choices. Considering the motive of the crime, there is no dispute that the conversation about youth crime should re-emerge in Guyana.
A study coming out of Cornell University, conducted by Dr Valerie Reyna in patterns of reasoning in young adults highlights the startling conclusions about the reasons for adolescent risk taking. The study shows that young people take risks not because of a belief that they are invulnerable, but because they engage in too much rational calculation when making choices. Even if they know the risks they run, youths mentally weigh those risks against perceived benefits.
While the decision to do right or wrong is a personal choice, interventions that help young people learn to make better choices can be an effective component of a larger commitment to youth development and healthy communities. Positive relationships between students and their peers, teachers, and families can be critical assets in promoting youth’s well-being and influence their choices.
Bishop Juan Edghill was on point when he said on Thursday that the decision of these educated professionals to enter into the realm of crime points to a breakdown in moral values in society. It is indeed frightening as he pointed out that, in the past, certain communities were profiled and particular individuals were profiled as criminals. However, what played out on Tuesday was that most of the robbers came from decent backgrounds, yet they were influenced to commit a criminal act. Religious leaders, parents, teachers will indeed have to check to see if their messages are appropriate and whether the methods used were effective.
There is an undeniable need to teach self-efficacy and furnished young people with concrete strategies to help them become both responsible and capable. Parents need to reopen the level of communication with their young adults and engage them by occupying their time with positive activities. This particular incident, shocking as it is, that happened on Tuesday has highlighted the need for greater dialogue in communities and homes across Guyana.