Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Poor Literacy Skills Lead More Likely to Crime

Having acknowledged International Literacy Day on September 8th and hearing about the efforts made to address the poor literacy in our communities, we continue to ask, are these practices enough?

In Canada the Crime Prevention Committee acknowledged the unfailing link between poor literacy and the crime it faces every day.

Voiced during a conference that ‘many people with low literacy find it hard to do everyday things with their families that others take for granted, such as understanding letters they receive from their child’s school, or not being able to help their children with homework to help them succeed, thereby continuing the inter-generational cycle of literacy challenges. Raising literacy rates in families in the community contributes to reducing crime and lowering re-offending’. Continuing on talking about literacy and families they expressed concerns that those with low literacy skills also tend to be less active citizens, often feeling isolated becoming vulnerable and outcast. This they say may partly explain why people with low literacy are statistically more likely to be involved in crime. Other disadvantages include poor health, unemployment and anti-social behaviour.

The UK Independent newspaper also clarified the findings from a report published by the Basic Skills Agency that ‘children with poor reading and maths skills are increasingly likely to become hardened criminals as society becomes more complex, according to research that sheds light on the link between education and criminality.’ Sarah Cassidy, the Education Correspondent reported that ‘there was now a "significant" connection between low literacy and numeracy levels and repeat offending, particularly for men and younger people.’ She continues to outline that the study, ‘the first to investigate the backgrounds of career criminals over a period of time, discovered that poor literacy and numeracy were more strongly linked to the criminal behaviour of 30-year-olds than for a similar group of 42-year-olds. The agency estimates that one in two prisoners have problems with reading while nearly two thirds struggle with numbers. It argues that educational programmes that target basic literacy and numeracy skills are essential to reduce crime.

Interestingly a Department for Education and Skills spokeswoman in the UK said the Government was spending more than £20m on education for prisoners and their motivation to learn. While the British Government was spending to combat this problem, many corporate initiatives have been taking their own steps to address this rising statistic elsewhere.

In some US States ‘author sign ups’ are raising money to contribute to organizations who improve the literacy of its citizens, decrease crime rates, help police solve crimes, and raise public awareness of the link between high illiteracy rates and high crime rates.

Books of all types and genres are included, and every author in attendance has their books available to purchase and they can be personally autographed.

Here in Trinidad, companies such as UTC, GlaxoSmithKline, Repsol, Atlantic LNG and the Australian High Commission to name a few have been putting profits into the communities and improving literacy as well as raising confidence, concentration and motivation in hundreds of students through the A.R.R.O.W. Learning System.

Is there more that can be done as we continue to experience crime in our neighbourhoods? A.R.R.O.W. continues to welcome funding to address hundreds more children aiming to prevent crime and raise standards in literacy and the wider society. A.R.R.O.W. also hosted the Literacy Day Extravaganza on 11th September at Movie Towne. They can be contacted on 624 9063 or view their website at www.arrowtt.com.