Youth Crime Watch of Jamaica Launched


Youth Crime Watch of Jamaica, a youth-led movement, which intends to rid Jamaican schools and neighbourhoods of crime, drug and violence, was officially launched on March 18 at Christ the Redeemer Centre in Seaview Gardens, Kingston.
An affiliate of Youth Crime Watch of America, which was founded in 1979, the local chapter of the programme was established through assistance from the United States Embassy, and sets out to accomplish the following goals – reporting crime, having young people educate each other about the prevention of drug abuse, crime and violence, promoting bus safety, mentoring, resolving conflicts and mediating disputes.
The programme will seek to bring young persons of all backgrounds together to identify and correct problems unique to their schools and communities. It empowers them to take an active role in addressing the problems around them and encourages them to take ownership of their own programme for their school, neighbourhood, public housing site, recreational centre or park. This programme will be implemented soon in police youth clubs across the island through the Jamaica Constabulary Force, as well as in schools through the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture.
Delivering remarks at the launch on behalf of Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, Portia Simpson Miller described the youth programme as a timely exercise that would go a long way in solidifying the country’s bid for a more stable, crime-free society.
“Our young people are most vulnerable to poverty, unemployment and crime, factors that are closely related, and yet this is the section of the population that gives us the best reasons for hope in the future.
Young people have energy in boundless supply, and with their fresh, lively, adventurous minds, they have the greatest potential for original thinking. Very importantly, they have the greatest incentive to participate in and even lead the transformation of this society because they have the greatest stake in the future,” she said.
She extolled the virtues of Youth Crime Watch, noting that it was a great opportunity for joint action to preserve what was positive about the present as well as a means of safeguarding the future.
“We need to get to a point where we adopt and hold dear the standard of peaceful and harmonious living, which benefits everyone.this is one area in which I expect Youth Crime Watch to make a big difference through its activities in conflict resolution, mediation, and crime prevention,” the Minister said.
In her address, United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Sue Cobb said even though crime and violence affected everyone, “it is young people who bear the brunt, boys and girls who are on both the trigger and barrel ends of the guns. I therefore salute the work of these young leaders here today, and the leaders throughout Jamaica who are standing together and saying enough is enough”.
The Ambassador said it was commendable that the young persons have taken the initiative to ensure that their surroundings at school and home were safer and freer from the scourge of crime. Recalling the history of the programme in the state of Florida, she said the first one was established in North Miami Beach Senior High School and achieved significant success in the first year.
The Ambassador said that in the initial year of the programme’s implementation, students at the high school “reduced the school’s drug problem by more than half by pinpointing the drug pushers”.
Youth Crime Watch of America is cited as an exemplary programme of excellence by the US Department of Education and also earned national recognition from Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George Bush.
Leaders from Youth Crime Watch of America are expected to visit Jamaica next month. They will train young Jamaicans associated with the programme, as well as the community groups, schools and members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
The local chapter is supported by the Ministries of Justice; Education, Youth and Culture; Local Government and Community Development, and National Security. The Jamaica Constabulary Force, the Ionie Whorms Inner City Counselling Centre, and the St. Patrick’s Foundation also support the venture.
Youth Crime Watch of Jamaica is a part of ‘Building Bridges – The Florida/Jamaica Connection’, an initiative introduced by Ambassador Cobb, which is a one-year programme of events developed in collaboration with the Jamaica investment and trade promotion agency, JAMPRO; the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham).
Building Bridges include specific pilot programmes, seminars and exchanges, matching Jamaican and Floridian public and private sector entities that share similar interests.

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