Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wayne Henry, says that young people must be included in any solutions aimed at addressing youth crime and violence.
Dr. Henry, who was addressing the virtual United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Youth Summit on crime and violence recently, noted that there was a time when initiatives were planned with minimal involvement from the youth.
However, he said that persons are increasingly recognising that youth participation in the crafting of prevention strategies will yield greater levels of success as young people are more qualified to identity and offer solutions to issues confronting them.
He said that meaningful youth engagement is needed to understand and address the main risks and protective factors at all levels before solutions could be introduced.
“Youth participation in policy development is therefore necessary as the needs of youth vary and obtaining their input is important in safeguarding their well-being. They are key agents of change in planning for and creating a better future for themselves,” he added.
Dr Henry cited data from the Economic and Social Survey Jamaica 2020 report, which shows that the country has a youth unemployment rate of 25.9 per cent and over 10,000 unattached youth.
“What this is suggesting is that creative and sustainable interventions will have to be introduced to cauterise youth involvement in crime and violence,” he said, adding that youth participation in crime “creates a lasting negative impact on the youth, their families, friends, communities and the wider society.”
Further, he said the Survey also indicates that 1200 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 were victims of category one crimes such as murder, shooting, rape, robbery, and breakings, while another 940 were arrested for committing these crimes. He added that about 300 young people, of which 111 were re-offenders, were admitted to the island’s correctional facilities.
The two-day Youth Summit, in observance of World Peace Day, was supported by UNDP under the auspices of its Amplifying Youth Voice and Action (AYVA) project in partnership with UNESCO Caribbean, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), PIOJ, Ministry of National Security, and RISE Life Management Services.