Parents are being encouraged to show their children love; instill strong family values; and help them to set goals to avoid becoming involved in drug use or engaging in antisocial or criminal behaviour.
In fact, Director of the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit (formerly the National Task Force on Crime Prevention), Cheryl Willoughby, stated that parents had a major role to play in preventing crime in society.
She made this assertion as she addressed teenage boys at the annual ???Boys to Men??? workshop under the theme: Working Together for Boys and Men, at the 3Ws Oval, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, today.
???The home and family is the most important institution in the life of a child. This is where values, responsibility, respect for self and others and good wholesome characters are taught and reinforced,??? she said.
However, Ms. Willoughby noted that it was also a role being neglected by parents and families across the island, as they pursued their own selfish ambitions and pleasure, resulting in a breakdown in family values.
Evidence of these breakdowns could be seen in primary and secondary schools across Barbados, which recorded a 3.4 per cent and 15 per cent rate of drug use respectively, with boys being the main offenders.
Sharing the statistics from a Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Victimisation survey, the Director disclosed that the research also showed that 12 per cent of the boys indicated they used drugs more than once, while 7.2 per cent said they used it once. This compared to 6.2 per cent of females who used drugs more than once and 2.5 per cent who said they used it once.
The number of juveniles incarcerated for marijuana possession stood at three males and three females in 2011; six males in 2012 and 13 males in 2013. No females were incarcerated in 2012 and 2013 for this offence.
In addition, she said research had also shown that the 11 to 13 and 14 to 17 age groups were those identified as needing the most intervention as it relates to drug use and other antisocial behaviour.
Noting crime was a social problem which began with a breakdown in family values, Ms. Willoughby stressed the importance of targeting criminal risk factors.
???These must include self-esteem building, values education, parenting skills and civic responsibility??? If a person feels loved, has a high self-esteem, strong family values, has set goals for him or her, that individual is less likely to use drugs or engage in antisocial or criminal behaviour,??? she emphasised.
However, she noted that preventing crime and violence in schools and the wider society should also be a priority for every citizen in Barbados, and involve the reporting of incidents of crime to police.