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  • Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says the Government is committed to social-intervention programmes that provide protection for children and keep them out of conflict with the law.
  • He noted that far too many children are finding themselves on the wrong side of the law, with data showing that 194 minors were being housed in the island’s four juvenile detention facilities at the end of 2016.
  • “Our social-intervention agents advise that, further still, children are being recruited by gangs, are being made into transporters of guns and eventually graduate to using them to commit crime. These realities are startling and must be addressed,” he added.

Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says the Government is committed to social-intervention programmes that provide protection for children and keep them out of conflict with the law.

He noted that far too many children are finding themselves on the wrong side of the law, with data showing that 194 minors were being housed in the island’s four juvenile detention facilities at the end of 2016.

“Our social-intervention agents advise that, further still, children are being recruited by gangs, are being made into transporters of guns and eventually graduate to using them to commit crime. These realities are startling and must be addressed,” he added.

The Minister was speaking at a training seminar staged by the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) to promote and highlight its ‘Child Justice Guidelines’. The session, which targeted members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), was held on Saturday (September 22) at the Iberostar Rose Hall Hotel in Montego Bay.

The publication contains procedural guidelines aimed at ensuring that the rights and best interest of children who come in contact with the law are upheld and observed at all times. It focuses on dealing with children in conflict with the law, child victims, witnesses and children deemed to be uncontrollable or in need of care and protection.

The Minister commended the OCA for staging “this timely and well-needed training on its well thought-out guidelines concerning the interaction of children and law enforcement”.

He noted that the extent to which young children are protected will have a “significant bearing” on Jamaica’s social and economic future.

“It has become a cliché over the years, but the children are indeed our future. More importantly, children are part of our very important present, and how we treat them will have a significant bearing on how we secure our own collective posterity,” he contended.

Dr. Chang said the Ministry is committed to playing its part, through rehabilitation of offenders and, “more importantly, the prevention of offences in the first place. “We want to have social interventions that keep children out of conflict with the law,” he said.

He noted that the JCF’s Community Safety and Security Branch (CSSB), the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), the Peace Management Initiative (PMI), among others, work in tandem to prevent incidents of juvenile misconduct, to the extent that they must be detained, noting that the interventions are bearing fruit.

Dr. Chang noted, further, that preventive measures have combined with rehabilitation strategies that now allow youth to continue their education and training while detained.