Dr King says ‘We are a nation in pain!’

Pathologist Dr Stephen King.

Dr Stephen King has been a registered medical practitioner and pathologist in St Lucia for decades.   Many will recognize him as one of the advocates for the Stop the Violence campaign and in more recent times the RISE youth movement.   The STAR had a one-on-one with Dr King at our headquarters to get his take on the rapidly rising homicide toll on the island.
Dr King began doing post mortems in 1985 and has done close to or more than six thousand autopsies to date.
“I’ve began to appreciate that death and how people die is really very much a reflection on how the society is, how developed we are in the real sense of development, not just our economic development but our social development and our spiritual development,” King said.
King explained his drive to reach out to the youth comes from the inherent barriers society has created to keep them disenfranchised.
Said King: “What has motivated me to be in some of the youth movements and the whole advocacy for stopping the violence and promoting healthy youth development is that it is clear to me, and I may be wrong, that because we don’t have the right environment in our country for the healthy development of our youth and the opportunities for our youth to really actualize and be successful, we are creating this dilemma that we’re in which is an increased tempo of murders.
“To me that’s tragic because a human being is a great creation.  A human being has great potential.   Losing a person, especially a young person, it’s a major loss to society.  I cannot quantify it in terms of dollars and sense but I do know that many of our youth are being wasted by the way in which the society is facilitating their growth. I don’t blame the youth dilemma that they’re in.”
King revealed he empathizes and sympathizes with the current situation facing the youth.  He holds the powers that be culpable for creating a situation they refuse to address.  “I do blame all of us who are in positions of authority that we don’t yet understand what we really need to do to change.  If you’re going to have 44 percent youth unemployment, if you’re going to have youth being more and more disenchanted with the education system, if you have youth feeling more marginalized in terms of their ability to legally earn a living decently without having to demean themselves, that is the kind of environment we have created so what do we expect?  We have created a hostile and violent environment for our youth and they have responded to that environment in anti-social ways.  The environment is more subtle and sophisticated than the reaction so public sentiments are always against the youth.”
It is hard for King to see a young life taken.  He led the STAR through some of the machinations of his mind.  “When I see a young person having been killed, I am saddened by it.  Every young person who dies, there are family and friends who are in serious pain.  When I look at the country and I look at the volume of pain around each death, it’s phenomenal.  We are a country that’s living in a lot of pain.  We need to start finding these solutions.  These solutions cannot be quick fix solution.  There is no quick fix. “
He continued speaking, telling the STAR about his quintessential position on alleviating the proverbial societal gutter we are all living in.
“I’m waiting to hear a government articulate a very clear, comprehensive and holistic plan that deals with our youth from the time prior to conception so that our women know when they are going to get pregnant and the babies are wanted babies.  I’m looking forward to a government and a people who are going to say this is the kind of environment we are going to create and our little ones are going to be brought up in an environment that is going to encourage them to flourish.  When I see that, I will be a much happier St Lucian.  Up to now, in successive governments, I am yet to see that being articulated clearly.  I don’t have the answers to our ill.  But I do believe, if we as a society come together without the egos, without the politics, without the party foolishness, without the society foolishness, we could do something.  This dilemma bites all of us.”
King has observed the level of violence of killings since the 1980s have increased significantly.  There are more gun related killings now.
“What’s happening is the streets getting hot and the youths getting cold.  What you’re seeing is a lot of desensitization to violence and an escalation in the amount of force being used individually and collectively-in other words, the volume of force and the type of force used,” he asserted.
He continued, “What I think is happening is that you have a youth that is frustrated and wants respect, is trying to get respect from a system and they are finding anti-social ways of getting that respect and the more we frustrate them, the more we marginalize them, the more we violate the population by the system we have in place, the more violent the reaction is going to be.”

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