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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is calling on Jamaica’s youth to reject crime and violence in their communities.

He said that young people, as part of their civic duty, have a responsibility to renounce the influence of the dons and gangs and report any criminal activity.

“It is the right thing, it is the honourable thing, it is the good thing to do,” he said.

“We are only going to change when we have a new generation of empowered Jamaicans who reject the gangs and reject violence,” he added.

He was speaking at a student empowerment and motivational session at Penwood High School in West Central St. Andrew on Tuesday (November 6).

Mr. Holness, who is the Member of Parliament for the area, noted that a number of communities that are impacted by crime, among other negative factors, continue to lose residents with great potential, who are capable of effecting change.

He pointed out that many of these persons are leaving in search of a better life, as they believe that it is difficult to make any change.

The Prime Minister said that in a number of instances, there are individuals in these areas who are not inclined to be civic-minded and have been allowed to have “a dominant voice” within their neighbourhoods.

“They have, in fact, corrupted the society, and they have managed to get into your heads, as young people, to misdirect and divert you from the right path. We have to confront that… and we need to empower you to stand up against those people… in your own way [by trying] to [among other things] reach out to a friend who is being diverted on the wrong pathway,” he said.

Mr. Holness told the students that key messages for them to bear in mind are that “violence is not the only way to resolve conflict and that dons, gang leaders and criminals are illegitimate”.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (right), recites the National Pledge with students of Penwood High School in St. Andrew, after addressing them during a motivational and empowerment session at the institution on Tuesday (November 6).

“They are corrupting our society, and you, as good citizens, should cooperate with the police and give as much information as you have on these criminals. That is the only way that we are going to turn the tide of criminality in this society. It is an uncomfortable truth, but it has to be done,” he underscored.

Mr. Holness further emphasised that “until we have this very strong empowered youth who have that view, then the gang members will always feel that they have protection in their communities”.

“Gang members have not served us. They are criminals [and] must not have protection in their communities,” he added.