By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is preparing to hold a regional forum focussing on youth crime and violence.
The CARICOM Secretariat announced that the tow-day forum will be held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Georgetown, Guyana on 29 February 2016 to 1 March 2016.
“The objectives of the Forum are: to sensitise CARICOM policy makers, the media and other stakeholders on the major elements of youth crime and violence and on the responses to break the silence.” The Secretariat said in a release this week.
The secretariat added that sessions will also be used to share good practices with a view to replicating the lessons learned; to explore strategies for a multi-sectoral `whole of society’ response to the challenge and to examine the means for greater collaboration among institutions and development partners to sustain CARICOM’s response to youth crime and violence.
The Forum is an outcome of the CARICOM/Government of Spain Project: Reducing Youth on Youth Violence now being piloted in five Caribbean countries. The project began in February 2015, in five member countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The project entailed several stake holder consultations and student surveys to identify the causes of youth crime and violence along with what kind of crimes and violent acts youths are getting involves in. Surveys were conducted with over five hundred and twenty students have been surveyed and have also participated in various focus group discussions. With the majority of them between the ages of 11 – 16 (90 percent), many were victims of bullying, classroom theft and robbery by other students.
Information from the survey revealed that violence in schools was related to gangs moving in to the schools and communities (27 percent); easy access to drugs and guns (14.8 percent); lack of positive activities (13.2 percent); among other factors.
The project in collaboration with the government of Spain is one of several youth-focused projects carried out by CARICOM. The community also carries out the Youth ambassador program, student exchange program, and in 2015 embarked on an education sector project to work with high schools on integrating information about the CARICOM Single Market Economy into the curricula of each member state.