Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, has called on stakeholders to work together to reduce the number of boys and girls being sent to the Government Industrial School (GIS) for assistance.
He issued this challenge today, as he urged those attending a High Risk Student symposium at Hilton Barbados, to recognise that intervention needed to occur long before that stage.
???Do not see this as a criminal justice issue because it impacts everyone in society. We need to ensure that whatever interventions we come up with start at the bottom,??? he said, adding that students referred to the GIS just needed more understanding and someone to talk with them about issues.
He told those present that he was aware that students were being expelled from school, without the necessary follow-ups being done by the Ministry of Education or the police. ???When they come to the Government Industrial School we find out they were expelled from school for two years, but rather than constructive engagement they became involved in unlawful acts,??? he charged.
The Minister explained that one of the challenges being experienced by the GIS was that schools tended to distance themselves from a child who has been expelled. ???They never follow up to see how the child is doing; then we have challenges with getting reports from the school; we have had challenges where we are not getting the cooperation from all principals across Barbados. It is as if the principals are happy to be rid of these young people,??? Mr. Brathwaite lamented.
He added that today???s workshop was also expected to see stakeholders working on formulating a protocol where if a child is expelled from school, he or she could be tracked to ensure that they didn???t ???fall through the cracks??? again.
However, the Attorney General told those present that it was important to recognise the difficulties faced by the ???troubled youth??? and find some approach which not only pointed out the difficulties, but also had targeted intervention measures.
???We need to take a step back and look to see what [measures] worked in the past and adopt some of them. Our children have different challenges from what we had. And we as practitioners have to understand what they are to begin with???we need to get into their world so we can understand what influences them and try to make a difference in their world,??? the Minister advised.