Boys 8-15 Years Old Being Targeted Under Anti-Gang Strategy
The Ministry of National Security, through the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) will be targeting boys aged eight to 15, in order to reduce the likelihood of these youngsters becoming involved in gang-related activities.
“The programme (CSJP) will transition in 2019 with the Ministry retaining the responsibility for the centralised case-management framework,” said portfolio Minister, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, in his contribution to the 2018/19 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 12).
“We intend to build on the successes of this methodology with a fundamental shift to focus on the eight to 15-year-old cohort, who are of a more impressionable and vulnerable age, and reduce the capacity for the gangs to recruit our young men,” he explained.
He said that with the shift, “we expect greater success. Our strategy will begin in 20 of our most vulnerable and volatile communities identified in consultation with the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ)”.
Dr. Chang said that in order to ensure sustainability, the Ministry will deal with case management, counselling, and violence prevention, while other services will be undertaken in collaboration with other entities.
These include the HEART Trust/NTA; the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; and the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, which will provide training in music, technology and other areas that will attract the boys and divert them from a life of crime.
The CSJP programme, now in its third phase, is being implemented in 55 communities across eight parishes, with an initial focus on youth aged 12 to 30 years old.
Dr. Chang said that the emphasis on males aged eight to 15 is part of several targeted social-intervention initiatives in keeping with the Ministry’s crime prevention through social development component of its five-pillar crime strategy.
The initiatives target vulnerable and at-risk individuals, including young offenders and unattached youth, in order to build their resilience and better enable communities to respond to violence.
They include the Peace Management Initiative’s (PMI) alternative dispute resolution methodologies to treat with community-based violence, and the Violence Interruption Programme, also being undertaken by the PMI, which engages gang members and their associates.
Other measures are the ‘I am a Purpose’ school violence-prevention programme, which engages secondary-school students; and the ‘I am Voluntourism’ initiative, which targets at-risk youth from communities in St. James, offering life skills-training opportunities with the use of music, sports and culture.
The Ministry will also be utilising avenues such as the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force (JCCF) to serve as a feeder for the Jamaica National Service Corps (JNSC), and, ultimately, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the Jamaica Defence Force (JCF) and other service agencies.