Bridgetown, Barbados, August 18, 2020 (Barbados TODAY): Two 13-year-old boys who recorded videos of themselves abusing several elderly and homeless men in The City have publicly expressed remorse.
Five days after the boy and his friend sparked public outrage after four videos showing them slapping vulnerable folks around their heads last Wednesday went viral, they issued a public apology today at a news conference organised by the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH), Spry Street, headquarters.
Standing before two of their victims, and with their parents present, the duo admitted to their wrongdoing and indicated that they are ready to face the consequences of their actions.
Barbados TODAY has withheld their name in the interest of protecting their identity as minor children.
Identifying himself, one boy said: “I am here to apologize to the homeless for slapping him around his head. At first, it was just a joke to me and my friend and I sincerely apologize for our actions. And I hope that you can accept my humble apology.”
The other boy said the experience has taught him that when people do wrong they must face consequences.
He said: “Good morning to one and all, I am here to apologize for my actions; I thought it was a joke for me and my friends. I hope you find it somewhere in your heart to accept my humble apology. They are not good actions, I hope that I can do better.”
Speaking on behalf of those who were hurt physically and emotionally as a result of the teenagers’ actions, one of the victims said he accepted the apology but made it clear that he believes they should have known better.
He said: “I hope that it doesn’t happen again. It was a very lawless act and they should have known much better, they should be doing something like helping their grandparents and their family doing something in the house.”
President of BAEH Kemar Saffrey announced that the boys are to carry out community service at the shelter, in addition to participating in counselling. They are also to be enrolled in the Nature Fun Ranch programme for at-risk youth.
One boy’s grandmother, Anastacia St Pierre, and the other boy’s mother, Renee Wickham, both said that they insisted the boys make the public apology because they know they should not have done what they did.
St Pierre said: “I bring him here to apologize because I don’t stand for nonsense; I aint raise he up like that. I was very surprised and I tell him I going to bring him. My granddaughter was going to bring him but I tell him I coming myself.
“That is not right and he wouldn’t feel good if somebody did that to me, so I aint allowing him to do that. He got to know there are consequences for his actions. How he make his bed he got to lie down. So he got to do what the people say to do and he got to do it to the best of his ability.”
Overcome with emotion, and tears running down her cheeks, St Pierre said her grandson whom she raised from a young age, has been through a lot in life having experienced domestic issues. She said she was especially pleased that he would be receiving counselling.
“He feels nobody cares. I am only the grandmother, I can’t take a mother’s place,” St Pierre said.
Wickham said she was concerned that her son involved in the wrongdoing.
Nature Fun Ranch founder Corey Lane said he understands that the teenagers were interested in working with horses and pursuing careers as jockeys, and noted that he was ready and willing to work with them to help them achieve their goals, in addition to taking them through the rehabilitation aspect of the programme.
Lane said it is important for the country to invest money in juvenile reform programmes to help at-risk youths instead of injecting thousands in the criminal justice system.
Lane told journalists: “I believe, yes, there must be consequences which will happen in this case, secondly we need to find out what they want to do in the future and start the counselling process and start the action process. But thirdly and most important to me is we have to look at the systemic issues that brought us here.
“How are our young people reaching this stage and what can we do to prevent it? It takes $2,000 a year to put a young person through the programme at Nature Fun Ranch, and it takes up to $52,000 a year to put them through the judicial system and keep them at Her Majesty’s prison, you do the maths.”
Supreme Counselling chief executive Shawn Clarke said society must now underscore the need for at-risk youth to be exposed to counselling services.
“We need to get our young people into counselling, we need not to write them off,” Clarke said.