National Security Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says targeted investments in education and the nation’s youth can potentially curtail crime and violence in Jamaica over the long-term.
Against this background, Dr. Chang said his Ministry will be focusing resources on children at the primary school level and their families as a preemptive measure to curb crime, particularly murder.
“Our commitment is to provide the kind of transformative investment that will [stem crime and violence]. So we [are] starting from the early ages into the teenage groups that are most affected,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that “my intention is to begin to look, not at case management, but at family management”.
“The easiest way to access the family is through the mothers’ [health] clinics and the schools, because once you identify a child at this level, you can begin to identify the problems in the family and, hopefully, we’ll solve them with other means,” Dr. Chang added.
He was speaking at the launch of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) FHI 360 Degree Emergency Response Programme at the Flanker Primary and Junior High School in St. James on Friday (February 5).
Under the programme, tablet and laptop computers were distributed to the Flanker Resource Centre, Flanker New Testament Church, and the Flanker Seventh Day Adventist Church to build the capacity of the community-based organizations to support students in accessing education virtually.
The presentation formed part of the six-year Local Partner Development (LPD) Project, which is being funded by USAID through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative and implemented by the FHI 360 Programme.
Dr. Chang said the Government will continue to partner with organizations, such as USAID, to bring about sustainable, impactful change to the most at-risk communities in Jamaica.
“The entire activity here represents a commitment by this Government to work in what we consider vulnerable communities,” he said.
Dr. Chang highlighted work being done at Flanker Primary and Infant School and institutions in surrounding communities, in dealing with children who are being challenged “as opposed to waiting until you get the person committed”.
He explained that the aim is to prevent the process of gang recruitment of young men in particular, “who feel like they have no stake in the society and who, from primary school, are channelled on a route that sends them in the wrong direction”.
For her part, Director of USAID’s Office of Citizen Security, Shannon Stone, said the US Government remains committed to bolstering Jamaica’s coronavirus (COVID-19) response, particularly in building the resilience of marginalized communities and institutions by strengthening them to better respond to the needs of the most vulnerable citizens.
Meanwhile, Dr. Chang handed over school supplies, including text books, to students from several primary and high schools in St. James and Westmoreland under the Ministry’s ‘LIV Gud’ initiative.