JIS News

Scores of young Jamaicans are gearing up to take on their roles as agents of peace when they take part in a march against crime and violence in the society on International Students’ Day, Wednesday, November 17.
The event, which is being organised by the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) as part of activities to mark Youth Month, will see secondary and tertiary students from across the island advocating for greater rehabilitative and restorative measures in the Jamaican justice system.
The march begins at 9:00 a.m. at the Liguanea Post Office and culminates in a students’ rally at the University of the West Indies Students’ Union.
Coordinator of Youth Month activities at the NCYD, Layne Robinson told JIS News that the event would serve to increase student advocacy, while enabling greater participation of young people in issues of national concern.
“It is a march for justice and peace and we are expecting approximately 1,500 students in attendance,” he said.
The rally, which will be held from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., will include the formal induction of the presidents of the Jamaica Union of Tertiary Institutions and the National Secondary Students Council, which are the island’s major students’ organisations.
The meeting will also serve to increase students’ awareness of justice in Jamaica, from the perspective of the Ministry of Justice, and outline the country’s efforts in that regard, Mr. Robinson informed. “Students will learn about how they can become involved and the nature of their role in the process.”Participants will also be allowed to share their views on the subject during the discourse.
A significant feature of the rally will be a testimonial from Dwayne Stewart, a reformed youth, who was once involved in a gang and is now speaking out against crime and violence. “In going through a number of programmes, he has made the transition from being a youth who would be participating in violent acts into someone who is now a role model for other young persons,” Mr. Robinson noted.
Statistics from the National Youth Policy (2003) indicate that young people are the main perpetrators and victims of violence. Approximately 15 per cent of students between the ages 10 to 18 years carry a weapon to school, while 14 per cent of boys and five per cent of girls have been stabbed or shot in a fight, and eight per cent of all adolescents have been knocked unconscious as a result of a fight. One in six adolescents belong to a gang at some point during their youth.
Meanwhile, youth are arrested, jailed, and murdered at twice the rate of the general population. Over 400 youth are in Juvenile Correctional facilities with another large percentage in the general correctional services. A category of violence to which young people are particularly vulnerable is physical and sexual abuse, which affects roughly one in ten youth.
While it is believed that members of the youth population are among the main perpetrators of crime in the society, Mr. Robinson is urging older Jamaicans to set good examples for the younger generation, who often act based on what they see in the society.
Mr. Robinson is also encouraging members of the society to acknowledge youngsters for the positive things that they do, as a means of boosting their self-confidence. “The fact is, not all our young persons are negative, but the few in this category take the spotlight. There are hundreds of young persons who are doing well in their schools. There are good role models, but no focus is given to them,” he stated.
The theme for Youth Month 2004 is: ‘I Pledge My Heart’, an excerpt from the National Song for Schools.

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