Police Youth Clubs Helping to Mould the Lives of Young People


The police youth club movement, an important and integral part of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Police Community Relations Branch, has helped to mould the life of young people across the island since its inception in 1954.
Natasha-Lee Thompson, who joined the club at age 15 at the urging of a police officer, says that the movement has helped her to develop self confidence and important life skills.
“The police youth club has impacted my life in a very positive way in that I once was a very shy person, but since being a part of the club, I have sort of gotten rid of that. I have gotten a higher self esteem and self confidence, which has resulted in me becoming more outspoken,” she tells JIS News.
Natasha-Lee, who is part of the Clarendon Division of clubs, was named the police youth clubbite for 2006/07. She is encouraging other young persons to become part of the movement, noting that the clubs play an important role in the development of the youth in the communities in which they operate.
“The clubs have moulded peoples’ lives in a very positive way, especially now with the crime and violence in the society. We have police personnel, and other resource persons that will come in and speak to us about HIV, pregnancy and career choices, so I believe the clubs help to expose our youth to things out there in the wider society,” Natasha-Lee says. She informs that members also benefit from training through the HEART Trust/NTA and the National Youth Service.
Natasha-Lee notes that “some persons .once they hear the name (police youth club) they think that it is all about the police, but I will tell them that they should not make this hinder them from joining the clubs,” noting that “the police are “only there as leaders to help supervise the smooth running of the clubs”.
“It’s all about the youths; youths are the ones in the positions, they are the ones that will be benefiting from whatever is done in the organization. It is not the police, they are just there to supervise the smooth running of the youth clubs,” she says.
Male police youth clubbite for 2006/07, Craig Napier, tells JIS News that being part of the police youth clubs has enabled him to meet other people from a wide cross section of the society and to develop a tolerance for persons. “It has taught me to have more discipline and tolerance. As the current president of the Spalding youth club, it has resulted in me learning leadership skills,” he adds.
Craig says there are several benefits to being a part of the police youth clubs, one of which is that it serves as a medium for interaction between young persons and police officers across the island.
“Being a part of the police youth clubs teaches you certain things that you wouldn’t normally know about the police. When you are a part of the youth club, you learn to cooperate with police officers and it brings across a different side of them and some of them (clubbities) actually seek employment within the force through that arena,” Craig points out.
He too is encouraging young persons to join a club as being part of the movement helps in the socialization process. “Being part of a youth club is vital. I would advice young persons to joins clubs as it opens the room for socialization,” he says.
Continuing, he notes that “it opens up arenas for you to find jobs, and the whole fact that you can learn from each other and the whole fact that you can pass on the knowledge that you have to persons. Being a part of the youth clubs, you learn certain skills that you would not learn on your own or in the group or company that you have and it keeps you out of trouble,” adding that the lessons learnt can be applied in real life.
Sergeant Sheryl Brown of the Police Community Relations Division Branch tells JIS News that the clubs seek to promote programmes, which will improve the relationship between the police and the youth; provide a means for the training of young people in the fields of sports, drama, art and craft; as well as educational development.
“The clubs aim to develop the mental, physical and spiritual aspect of members so that they may grow to full maturity and be good participants in the Jamaican society. Also, we seek to cooperate whenever possible with other organizations to foster all round development of the youth,” she says.
Sergeant Brown notes that the youth clubs are playing an important role in the development of the communities in which they are located.
“In the communities where you find that there are active police youth clubs, you will find that crime and violence is somewhat down as well, as you don’t find that young people are the perpetrators of crimes in those communities,” she points out. She notes further that “most of our members, when we have done our surveys, these members are not persons getting involved in wrongdoings.”
According to Sergeant Brown, the police clubs were not created to fight crime within the communities in which they exist “but to foster that relationship between us and the youth and for them to have a better understanding of the roles and functions of the police within their community. By extension, it will help in the reduction of crime, it is a way for the young people to find meaningful activities to do, which would see them not being involved in crime.”
The concept of the police youth clubs were borne out of a dispute in Sandy Bay, Hanover and after the dispute, Police Corporal Matthews, who was attached to the Sandy Bay Police Station at the time, thought it critical and necessary for the police to get into the community, and foster relations with the public, especially the youth.
There are currently 457 police youth clubs across the island.

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