Rutnik Questions “Deafening Silence” on Education, Crime

Letter to Editor:

Without drawing conclusions from just two simple facts, I think it worth an investigation as to the current status of our Virgin Islands community, in that 77 percent of our UVI graduating classes are women, and 98 percent of our Virgin Island prison inmates are men.

Simple conclusions to these facts are not easily ascertained, and a more in depth study is long over due. What is most disturbing is the lack of political courage to even address the issue.

Has no one noticed the escalation of crime over the last 20 years? Has anyone come out publicly and predicted the future of the Virgin Islands if this disturbing trend continues? I give praise to the efforts of the churches and their pastors, the community groups that march against crime for bringing this issue to the public, but no one is addressing it head-on, and the crime just gets worse.

Why are our women so successful in overcoming the obstacles that stand in their way? Why are our men so unsuccessful in achieving their goals and ambitions? I am sure no man born of these islands is convinced at birth that prison is their future: that death by drive by is a career choice. We are all born with hope and love, and it is what happens along the way to maturity that destroys these necessary nutrients for a successful life.

Slowly our tolerance to the daily reports of violent murders, rapes, armed robberies, burglaries, and corruption grows and our thoughts turn to protection, not prevention.

There are probably many reasons why men are in prison and women are in school, some of them existing as remnants of slavery, others are modern introductions, such as drug addiction, or break-up of the family unit.

In talking to many older Virgin Islanders you hear of community discipline, manners, respect for others lives and property as being the bedrock of their day’s civil society. Contrast that to today when you hear of parents assaulting teachers and students, mothers left without support for children with many different fathers, students settling disputes with knives and guns, every day at least two pages of the local newspaper filled with incidents of disrespect; domestic assaults, embezzlement of others funds, and, worst of all, children assaulting parents.

The bedrock has fissured, as if the Virgin Islands was shocked by a giant earthquake. The blame finger is pointing in all directions, old immigrants, new immigrants, rich people, poor people, white people, black people, and every day it changes direction depending on who you are talking with.

The only true direction is ourselves, yes we are to blame for letting this happen. Our community is now paying and will pay more in the future for all of our neglect.

Year after year, election after election, school year after school year, birth after birth, our future is put more and more in jeopardy by our neglect.

This is no secret in our small community, but the silence is deafening when the issue is raised. You can come up with a lot of excuses for the statistics aforementioned, but the sad reality is true, who will be there with these successful women to provide companionship, raise their children, provide role models, and support the family, not those young men in prison.

Andrew Rutnik