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I'm a single mom of 3 living in Anguilla. My kids are safer than in the US and there's a bigger sense of community.

Lauren Crosby Medlicott   

I'm a single mom of 3 living in Anguilla. My kids are safer than in the US and there's a bigger sense of community.
  • Vanessa Croft is a 39-year-old single mom of three children, aged 17, 12, and 3.
  • When she had her first child, she decided to raise her family in Anguilla.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Vanessa Croft. It has been edited for length and clarity.

Before moving to Anguilla when I was 13, I lived with my single mom in Oregon, Florida, and California. My dad is from Anguilla, so my mom always had a connection to the island. I remember hating Anguilla when we first moved.

I planned to return to the US as soon as I finished high school and saved some money, but when I got pregnant with my oldest child at 20, I decided to stay in Anguilla. Childhood in Anguilla is much superior to childhood in the US.

There are no school shootings

One of the main reasons I stayed here to raise my children was because I didn't feel safe going back to the US. We don't have school shootings in Anguilla. Even as a teacher, it isn't something I consider a threat.

Some people have guns, but we don't have the problem of people going around randomly using them.

Like any other society, there is crime here, but it isn't highly prevalent. I leave my house unlocked at times, and people often leave their cars unlocked. As a single mother, I'm not afraid someone will come into my house to steal or hurt my family.

There's a sense of community

Since there are only around 15,000 people on the island, everyone knows each other and watches out for one another in Anguilla. Strangers don't exist here.

There is a collective responsibility for children especially. People don't ever ignore children.

When I was in the US, people were just in their own little zones, moving forward for themselves. I remember being taught to never talk to or accept anything from a stranger. But here, if I didn't have money as a mother and needed to feed my children, I could go anywhere to ask for food, and it would be given to me.

My kids don't experience bullying

I'm always reading about how bad bullying is in the US. It's a major theme of American TV shows. Children are being told they are worthless, and fake accounts are made online to bombard kids with. Kids are bullied so badly that they kill themselves.

That would never happen in Anguilla. We've had a couple of instances of bullying, but not close to the magnitude of that in the States.

I think the difference might come down to parental expectations. Here, if a parent is called out on how their child is treating another child, the parent reacts, making sure their child stops.

We don't spend money on things we don't need

There aren't a lot of stores in Anguilla. If you buy something, it has to be imported, and you have to pay customs duty, so the price is often double what it would be in America.

It has meant my kids have learned to value the things they do have.

When my daughter was 7, a friend from the US came to visit with her little girl. After using markers to color, my friend's daughter left all the tops off, and mine went behind her, putting the tops back on each marker.

We just don't have excessive consumerism. If your toaster breaks, you take it to the electronic repair guy. If a shoe breaks, you take it to the shoemaker.

We don't experience racism as a Black family

The population of Anguilla is 85% Black, so we don't experience the same plight as African Americans in the States.

Since most people are people of color, we aren't worried that something is going to happen to us if the police pull us over. Having a son, if he were living in the US, it would be something I worried about. But it isn't even on the radar here.

Things like education and healthcare could be better

We don't have a lot of specialist doctors here on a consistent basis. They rotate through on a monthly basis. If you need to see someone quickly, you must go off-island.

But healthcare is much cheaper here. For instance, to give birth to each of my kids without insurance, I paid $500.

When my kids get ready to go to college, they will be leaving to go to the US. There isn't a lot of access to further education here. We have one community college and one branch of the University of the West Indies Open Campus. There's not a lot of opportunities here — you'd have to leave.

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