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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of National Security has intensified its efforts to tackle youth involvement in crime with the recent staging of six anti-gang sensitisation sessions.
  • Approximately 255 young people benefited from the sessions, which were held across the island over two weeks from October 25 to November 7. These include youth offenders in juvenile centres, probationers, and unattached young people.
  • Focus was placed on equipping the participants with life and entrepreneurial skills and conflict resolution techniques.

The Ministry of National Security has intensified its efforts to tackle youth involvement in crime with the recent staging of six anti-gang sensitisation sessions.

Approximately 255 young people benefited from the sessions, which were held across the island over two weeks from October 25 to November 7. These include youth offenders in juvenile centres, probationers, and unattached young people.

Focus was placed on equipping the participants with life and entrepreneurial skills and conflict resolution techniques.

The sessions, under the theme ‘Make the Choice to take a Chance and Change Your Life’, were a joint effort between the ‘We Transform Programme’ and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) aimed at deterring youth from engaging in illicit activities, especially gang involvement.

Minister of State in the Ministry, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, said the initiative reflects a commitment to implementing programmes that deter youth from crime.

This, he said, is in keeping with the Rehabilitation and Redemption and Crime Prevention through Social Development pillars of the Ministry’s five-pillar crime strategy.

“The intention is to stimulate prosocial values, attitudes and behaviour. This approach will re-socialise mindsets and promote respect for self, others and community,” he noted.

Acting We Transform Programme Manager, Steffani King-Halstead, told JIS News that the sessions were a success.

She said that the objective was to “encourage the successful rehabilitation and reintegration of the children/youth who are in or have been in correctional facilities into society, through the We Transform Programme, and we are delighted to observe the impact of the sessions on them”.

Daniel*, a probationer, who attended the final event at Hotel Grandiosa in Montego Bay, St James, on Wednesday (November 7), said that the session was “enlightening because it showed me how to stay away from negative influences, control my anger and also about conflict resolution”.

The 19-year-old, who was sentenced to three years probation in 2017 for illegal possession of a weapon, noted that these initiatives are important in enabling youths to resist becoming involved in crime.

“The Ministry has been important to persons like myself staying on the straight and narrow path, so I am very grateful for the effort they have made. I am not sure where I would have been without them as I have been receiving a lot of help from them, including enrolling me at the HEART Trust/NTA to be trained in general construction,” he noted.

The sensitisation sessions are a follow-up to Anti-Gang Week held in September, where the Ministry coordinated activities under the theme ‘Gang Life Equals no Life,’ and targeted youths who are predisposed to involvement in gangs.