The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment will be utilising a number of strategies in its Anti-Violence Campaign, which was launched virtually last Saturday evening, under the theme End De Violence Now.
Minister Dwight Sutherland, in his remarks, outlined strategies that would be used to help combat crime and violence under the campaign, which has a budget of $200,000.
Those strategies include: sensitisation programmes – a campaign in schools on building healthy teen relationships; targeted messages disseminated through social, print and broadcast media; an anti-gun campaign; psycho-educational training, and social intervention programmes, such as a Community Anti-Violence Intervention Programme, and a series of anti-violence training workshops for youth groups and community members.
Mr. Sutherland noted that to complement the campaign, “the Ministry will also provide a range of activities that will ensure that human, financial and social services are distributed as front-end investments to build strengths and minimise risk factors for deviance”.
Some of those programmes, which will be facilitated across other ministries, involve the retraining and retooling of young people to meet the domestic, regional and global labour markets; engaging partnerships for development and mechanisms to reduce unemployment, youth crime and violence, and providing entrepreneurial assistance to young persons through the Building Blocks Project.
There will also be the development of community social intervention projects to address the issue of youth crime and re-integration of young people coming from penal institutions into communities.
The Minister stated that as a Government “it is our responsibility and privilege to implement all measures necessary to secure the future for our children and our children’s children”.
However, he stressed that Government could not do it alone, so it must be a national effort and a holistic approach must be taken in solving issues affecting society, especially those involving the youth.
Mr. Sutherland also urged families, communities, the private sector and non-governmental organisations to work together to implement new and innovative programmes aimed at preventing violence and cultivating behaviours that would discourage deviance and violence.
His sentiments were echoed by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Yolande Howard, who noted that while the Anti-Violence Campaign was “not totally new” to the Ministry, it is a very important initiative. “The campaign is a serious initiative, which is aimed not just at young people, but everyone because every one of us can play a part in this process.”
Speaking about the Ministry’s other programmes as well as the campaign, she stated: “We always include elements that teach young people about resolving conflicts, dealing with anger, working in teams. So really, this Anti-Violence Campaign, this initiative, is complementary to what we have been doing, but it is much more targeted; it is expected to convey a specific message, and that is, end the violence.”
In addition, the Permanent Secretary pointed out that the campaign is intended to get into the psyche of everyone to understand what violence does to individuals, to families, to communities, and the financial drain it places on the justice and health care systems. She stressed that if we don’t end the violence now, “we’ll find ourselves in very dire straits”.
Under the campaign, there will also be a number of competitions, including art, essay and speech, where participants will be encouraged to convey anti-violence messages. There will also be a Youth Parliament debate on anti-violence.