The Generation Unlimited (GenU) Report conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provides an assessment of the wellbeing of young people in Barbados.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Dwight Sutherland, made this remark during the launch of the Report and its fact sheet at the Radisson Aquatica Resort.
Mr. Sutherland explained that the assessment was based on “a number of domains including: poverty, health, education, employment, housing, social behaviour, crime and violence, access to basic needs such as water, sanitation and housing”.
“Overall, these domains have been identified as empirical measures of youth wellbeing at the regional and international level and particularly in relation to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he stated.
The Youth Minister noted that within the report and fact sheet there were a number of findings he considered to be “noteworthy”, that should be shared with stakeholders who set policy and implement programmes for the youth living in this country.
The report indicated that a significant proportion of young males was not successfully completing secondary school level examinations, which would have a negative impact on their future employment opportunities.
In addition, by age sixteen, a third of young people would have engaged in sexual activity and/or would have been engaged in drug use, which placed them at high risk for pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and juvenile delinquency.
It was also found that the majority of the children (68 per cent) assessed who were involved in gang violence and entering into the Juvenile Liaison Scheme were products of single parent households; and 113 of 274 cases of gang violence came from single parent families.
In spite of the findings, Mr. Sutherland pointed out that the report “concluded “with optimism that the majority of young people will eventually transition from childhood to adulthood successfully”.
The way forward, according to him, was to further assess the empirical data collected from the report to find the causality for the challenges affecting the one third of youth cited in the GenU Report, so that a framework for a coordinated intervention strategy could be provided with key stakeholders.
The Minister also expressed the belief that a greater stakeholder collaboration with UNICEF and the Ministry was necessary, in order to develop a series of validation workshops to update the research data.
He thanked UNICEF’s Eastern Caribbean Area Representative, Dr. Aloys Kamuragiye, for his agency’s continued support, which has assisted in “crafting” policies that emphasise the basic protection of children rights and programmes that provide youth empowerment.