There was a major meeting of minds today, as various representatives from interest groups and the Ministry of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth gathered at the Wildey Gymnasium to discuss interventions to counteract crime and deviancy in society.

Addressing an audience, which included media persons, counselors, clergy, members of the Royal Barbados Police Force, the National Task Force on Crime Prevention and Crime Stoppers Barbados, Youth Minister Stephen Lashley said the issue of deviance and crime would continually be examined with a holistic and collaborative approach.

"The government sees this as an opportunity to engage all stakeholders and solicit your active involvement and to build partnerships to help facilitate the design of the kind of solutions and the strategies that are necessary to ensure that we can solve this problem," he remarked.??

Previous meetings on this issue were held late last year and a final one, which will be held this year, will feature trade union representatives, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), private sector entities and the Barbados Chamber of Commerce.?? Minister Lashley noted that input from this sector would play an important role in future programmes.

"I must say that one of the strategies that we’re looking at is to engage a number of CEOs in Barbados …and we plan to have very intense discussions with CEOs drawn from a number of private sector companies, and to ask them to mentor some of our young people over at least a five to six month period…," he revealed.

The Youth Minister further disclosed that his Ministry would also continue to support its existing projects, which ranged from highlighting alternative areas of employment for young persons to parent support and education programmes.

"We believe that the issue of parenting is at the heart of a number of problems we have in society. We recognise that not all parents would have the skills that are necessary to offer the kind of guidance that they should to their children, and, therefore,?????? we believe that within the Ministry, we have to provide support to the parents so that they can actually deal with some of the issues that confront them," Minister Lashley added.

However, the Minister stressed that the problem of deviance and crime was not only a youth-related issue, but a societal one.

"The problem of crime transcends our young people.?? Offenders are not only to be found among the youth.?? We have many adult offenders …and these persons continue to offend and, therefore, present a challenge, because they interact with young people and are negative influences on our youth," Mr. Lashley affirmed.

He also stated that the opinions of the both the general public and the youth were essential to the formulation of viable strategies and efforts would continue to bring focus to their views.

"We have done and we have embarked on a number of initiatives within the Ministry.?? We have already concluded a Youth Assessment Survey, obtaining the views of 1000 young people drawn from across Barbados.?? That survey was conducted by the youth commissioners, it has been completed and we’re collating the data.?? It is going to be key in helping us to plot some of the strategies which are required.?? Of course that is the first phase of the survey, there will be other surveys so that we can tap into [the views of] more young people," Mr. Lashley explained.????

In addition, there are plans to create a body which will address the best ways in which to tackle deviance and crime.

"We’ve had an additional paper tabled before the Cabinet of Barbados on this issue, and out of that has come the decision to put in place an inter-ministerial commission which will be working with the nearest stakeholders in the implementation?? of the various intervention strategies," he said.??

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