Programmes to Assist At-Risk Youth to Be Explored at CBSI Meeting

Story Highlights

  • Programmes geared towards luring vulnerable youth away from committing crimes are expected to be explored during the current three-day meeting of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) in Kingston.
  • Addressing the opening, today (November 3), at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, told delegates that youth involvement in crime is an urgent issue for Jamaica.
  • Under the theme: ‘Juvenile Justice Sector Reform and Building Safe Communities’, technical working groups at the CBSI meeting will address a number of topics.

Programmes geared towards luring vulnerable youth away from committing crimes are expected to be explored during the current three-day meeting of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) in Kingston.

Addressing the opening, today (November 3), at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, told delegates that youth involvement in crime is an urgent issue for Jamaica.

“Young people are the group most affected by violent crime and are also most likely to be involved in perpetrating violent crimes. Research has shown that the majority of violent crimes in Jamaica are committed by young people below 30 years of age,” the Minister said.

Noting that his Ministry has sought to address the societal factors that are at the root of the problem, he emphasised the importance of the Unite for Change initiative, which seeks to mobilise church, community groups and other stakeholders to take action against crime.

Speaking with JIS News, the National Security Minister said specific programmes have been orchestrated to prevent at-risk or vulnerable youth from getting involved with  crime.

“We are (addressing) employment and employability. We are sponsoring persons in skills training, improving their education up to the tertiary level and a whole series of on-the-job internships,” he said.

The largest internship programme identified by the Minister involves the Jamaica Defence Force’s Engineering Regiment.

“We have put through about 500 young people in construction skills, an on-the-job training programme, which at its end will see young people benefitting from HEART certification for their work,” he pointed out.

Importantly, the participants will benefit from the positive socialisation and behavioural modification that come from being trained by the military.

Internships with the Shipping Association of Jamaica have also been explored. “We anticipate that this will help transition these vulnerable youth into employment and give them a platform that allows them to separate themselves from gangs,” he said.

Meanwhile, United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Luis G. Moreno, said young people need to be advised that lottery scamming, which involves a large number of youths, is not the answer.

“We have to tackle corruption in order to build a society based on integrity and accountability to citizens. For that reason, the United States Embassy, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will work with the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) and the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA),” he said.

Mr. Moreno added that partnerships to improve the opportunity for those in the juvenile justice system will also be established.

“We need to work hand in hand with at-risk communities, faith leaders, teachers, parents and others who are on the frontlines of preventing youth from being victims of violence,” he said.

Under the theme: ‘Juvenile Justice Sector Reform and Building Safe Communities’, technical working groups at the CBSI meeting will address a number of topics.

These range from non-governmental organisations working on juvenile justice, community crime prevention approaches, and juvenile justice reform, among others.

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