Greater dialogue needed as breakdown in moral values evident – Bishop Egdhill

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…says in the aftermath of foiled bank robbery

Bishop Juan Edghill

A prominent religious leader in Guyana has indicated that the recent foiled bank robbery which involved young educated professionals points to a breakdown in moral values in society, and this incident should be used to inspire greater dialogue in communities and homes across Guyana, as the trend of crime and violence may have shifted.

Bishop Juan Edghill said the event was frightening because while in the past, communities were profiled and particular individuals were profiled as criminals, in what played out on Tuesday, most of the robbers came from ‘decent’ backgrounds, but they were influenced to commit a criminal act.

“Somehow, they are being influenced to go in a direction that will break the heart of any parent and will cause serious introspection even in the religious community,” Bishop Edghill said.

From a religious standpoint, Edghill told this publication that religious leaders would now need to check to see if their messages were appropriate and whether the methods used were effective.

“Or are we just going through the motion? I think it’s a good time for religious leaders to go back to the drawing board and pay serious attention to children and youth and the structure of the family. When I say special attention should be paid to children and youth, I am talking about the impartation of values, ethics, principles and the instilling of deep moral perspectives,” he added.

Certain 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. Edghill said if this information was factual, it showed that the men did not think things through.

“For them to execute this robbery, it called for some amount of planning. Did no one try to talk the other one into rethinking that this might not be the right way to go? Was this as a result of some movies they were looking at? Are they having an intellectual author that remains unknown? These are very serious questions and we have to ask these questions,” he stated.

If this was the case, the religious leader said, the authorities would, therefore, need to look at ways to develop targeted approaches to infiltrate communities. He said the conversation about youth crime and violence should commence now and should never stop.

Edghill said there was no need for persons to be too surprised by the people that were involved in the bank robbery, especially Wray, because according to him, there have been many recent examples where University of Guyana graduates and students were placed before the courts for many offences.

“And that is something in itself we have to worry about. There is no longer that perception that the uneducated youth are looking for a hustle that is going to draw to a gang or violence. We are seeing a different approach and we must ask ourselves why that is so,” he added.

The foiled bank robbery, he said, also highlights the need for fathers to play a more active role in their children’s life, particularly their sons. “This is a good call for fathering and not just parenting. But as a man with a son, this is a real call for us to get closer to our sons in conversations, even when they meet an age of maturity. We just don’t loose them wild, but we remain that lighthouse to give them direction so that their ship will not go astray and fathering in the sense of mentoring and maintaining a relationship.”

Edghill continued: “As a father, I could imagine the agony and pain of the father, the shame of the family. But I think all of us, all men, should take a look and embrace your sons and check up on him a little bit more. Checking up their friends, influence the conversation and activities they get into, have an input in their associates and where they are going and their general programme.”

The three bandits involved in Tuesday morning’s attempted robbery at Republic Bank’s Water Street branch were all educated men.

Wray had a degree in agronomy which he earned at a university in China. Wray’s father holds a senior position in the Guyana Police Force. The dead man’s accomplice, Jamal Haynes, at the time of the robbery, was a staffer of Republic Bank and it is believed that he was the one who set up the robbery owing to his inside knowledge of the Bank’s operations. The other suspect worked at a local photography business in Georgetown.

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