The???? Ministry of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth is spearheading an all-out attack against increasing crime and violence among Barbadian youth.
In fact, if?? Family?? Minister, Stephen Lashley?? has his way, a structured,?? multi-sectoral , coordinated programme aimed at?? helping to arrest?? deviant behavior among at-risk youth could?? be rolled out in?? targeted communities?? as early as next month.
Word of this came today, as?? the?? Minister?? and a team of high-ranking Ministry officials?? sat down?? for follow-up?? talks with Commissioner of ??Police, Darwin Dottin, and?? other members of the Royal Barbados Police Force’s top brass,?? to map out?? a way forward.
According to Minister Lashley, the meeting was the third one?? convened in recent months to address issues surrounding youth deviance and crime. "I guess the importance has been heightened because of what is happening in Barbados, namely the increase of violent crime that has caused both the police and the society some???? concern," Minister Lashley maintained.
Highlighting the need for a holistic???? approach to this problem, Mr. Lashley said the intervention currently being drafted would entail both public and private sector collaboration, as well as input from international development agencies and community volunteers. It will also have a focus on mentorship and self-help programmes.
In this regard, the Youth Minister???? revealed that a proposal outlining?? a number of project-based interventions under three major themes – Multi-sectoral collaboration; Economic Development and the Creation of Safe and Attractive Public Spaces, was expected to be taken to Cabinet by month-end .?? Sub-themes relating to culture, sports and the arts would also be central to the proposal.
"In a sense, we are looking at some specific interventions.?? Some of them can be dealt with within our existing resources, but we know that we will have to tap other resources in terms of the more involved programmes…So, we are going to be very specific in terms of the various areas that we could actually move forward in," the Minister explained.
Maintaining that across communities there were persons quite willing to volunteer their skills within the framework of a structured programme, Minister Lashley said???? recommendations would be made to Cabinet to immediately commence interventions which could be aided by voluntary efforts.
??In terms of youth unemployment, the Minister contended that this problem must be tackled in a more aggressive way, namely via youth empowerment. He cited initiatives including skills development, the provision of seed funding, incubation for youth business ??and opportunities for persons to become engaged in entrepreneurial activity, as those being considered.
??"There is already out there an inclination?? among a number of people to be involved in?? self-help measures, what we have to do is to create some framework?? under which those could be successfully done. So, I hope that once Cabinet approves the actual project that we can really hit the ground and get these things under way," Minister Lashley said.
Making it clear that the initiative would be multi-ministerial, Minister Lashley noted that while his Ministry would take the lead, all departments?? which held responsibility for youth development , with the assistance of???? private sector partners,?? would be co-opted to execute it.
The findings from a recent National Youth Forum, as well as an ongoing???? National Youth Assessment Survey, will also be used to inform the initiative.??