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  • Jamaica’s youth have been encouraged to champion the ‘Unite for Change’ cause and become peace agents within their homes and communities.
  • Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, made the plea during his visit to Vauxhall High School in Kingston on March 21, as part of a series of islandwide school tours under the Unite for Change initiative.
  • The Minister told the students he was confident they have the capacity to lead the charge to “break and interrupt the cycle of violence".

Jamaica’s youth have been encouraged to champion the ‘Unite for Change’ cause and become peace agents within their homes and communities, by Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting.

He made the plea during his visit to Vauxhall High School in Kingston on March 21, as part of a series of islandwide school tours under the Unite for Change initiative, which is a public education and behaviour change programme, aimed at tackling the nation’s crime problem.

The Minister told the students he was confident they have the capacity to lead the charge to “break and interrupt the cycle of violence which has strangled so many communities in Jamaica for so long.”

He noted that the initiative, which focuses on the youth, is taking a holistic approach to solving challenges associated with violence prevention. This, he said, is “not an overnight solution,” and requires the input of this cohort to influence the behaviour change needed to remove the culture of violence among them.

“The long term solution involves changing the culture, reshaping the norms and that’s why the school-based interventions are so important, because you are really accessing the minds which are still forming and the values which are still not set in stone and we want to ensure that this evolves in a positive way, rather than a negative way,” he said.

During the event, Minister Bunting presented the school’s principal, Angela Chaplain, with the Unite for Change pledge which she read to the students.

The pledge, among other things, invites persons to communicate better, to solve problems peacefully, to ‘reason it out’ and not ‘fight it out’.

Students across the island are being asked to adopt the pledge, committing to play their part in the prevention of violence.

In the meantime, Ms. Chaplain welcomed the initiative, contending that “we have to do things differently,” in order to break the cycle of violence, particularly among the youth.

“As a school, we have the task now to get together and this Unite for Change, we’re going to use it at every single general assembly. In every single class, we’re going to use aspects of it, because we have to change, the violence has to stop,” she asserted.

The school tours, which have already taken place at the Grange Hill High School in Westmoreland; Guys Hill High School in St. Catherine; Aabuthnott Gallimore High School in St. Ann;  and May Day High School in Manchester, are  also part of activities to mark Peace Month (March), being observed under the theme: ‘Champions of Peace’.