JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica’s 2014 Rhodes Scholar, Timar Jackson, says the country’s youth must be positively engaged as part of efforts to combat crime and violence in the country.
  • Timar was one of four participants in a panel discussion facilitated by Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna during the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention.
  • He further contended that the youth, particularly those residing in marginalized communities, also need positive exposure to a different type of lifestyle.

Jamaica’s 2014 Rhodes Scholar, Timar Jackson, says the country’s youth, particularly those at risk, must be positively engaged as part of efforts to combat crime and violence in the country.

He argued that a number of young people, who become victims or perpetrators of crime, are often idle, and had they been engaged in worthwhile, wholesome activities, they could have avoided being in certain situations.

Timar was one of four participants in a panel discussion facilitated by Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna during the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston on January 30.

The 24-year-old, who grew up in the vulnerable community of Rasta Lane in Eastern St. Andrew, and could have easily strayed into a life of crime given his environment, said his exposure to certain negative activities was significantly reduced by a number of factors, including his involvement in his high school’s track team, as well as being a cadet.

“I was actively engaged, I didn’t have time to be exposed to certain negative activities in my community,” he said, noting that other young men in similar situations can follow suit.

Timar said while his former high school operated on a shift system, he chose to remain at the institution from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. engaging in academic and extracurricular activities, leaving no time to idle.

He further contended that the youth, particularly those residing in marginalized communities, also need positive exposure to a different type of lifestyle to show them that opportunities exist “beyond the zinc fence and the gully side”.

Another panelist, Linden Champagnie, who was a prison inmate for 24 years including 14 years on death row, encouraged persons to reach out to at-risk youth starting in the communities they reside, as he has been doing through the ‘Men with a Message’ project.

‘Men with a Message’ is a special project of the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), a crime prevention initiative of the Ministry of National Security comprising a group of men from volatile and vulnerable communities served by the CSJP. They have turned their back on crime, and are dedicated to showing other young men they can do so as well.

Though it may have been a little later in life, Mr. Champagnie, who hails from Olympic Gardens, is a testament of the impact of positive engagement. His involvement in interventions such as the rehabilitation programme at South Camp Adult Correctional Centre helped him to turn his life around.

The man, who was illiterate when he entered prison, learnt to read while incarcerated and is now a “full fledged designer/tailor.” His involvement in the rehabilitation programme, also saw him penning poems, which earned him a gold medal.

Senior Programme Development Specialist in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Miguel “Steppa” Williams and Medical Doctor, Dr. Claudia Allen-Burton, rounded out the other panelists.

The forum, hosted by the Ministry of National Security as part of the ‘Unite for Change’ public education and behaviour change programme, sought to increase awareness of interventions and preventative approaches that are currently in place, to combat crime and violence among the nation’s youth.

It also allowed for the sharing of best practices and the sensitisation of individuals and organisations as to the avenues through which they can contribute to violence prevention, or initiate preventative measures, within their own communities.

Aimed at tackling the nation’s crime problem, the Unite for Change programme is based on a revised National Crime Prevention and Community Safety Strategy (NCPCSS), which was approved by Cabinet in October 2013. The strategy recognises that security requires a multi-faceted approach, involving both state and non-state partners.