Click here to print page

Well done! Now don't drop the ball

Monday, August 12, 2019

Congratulations are due to the St James police for organising a four-week summer camp for 120 children from Salt Spring and surrounding communities.

We are told that the programme, which is receiving support from the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) and the Social Development Commission (SDC), is aimed at character-building and personal development.

We are told by the Jamaica Information Service ( JIS) that the initiative caters to children aged six to 17 years, engaging them in educational and extracurricular activities, as well as motivational talks geared at promoting proper etiquette and positive values and attitudes.

Child psychologists have also been engaged to give special attention to children who need counselling.

We are struck by comments from head of the Community Safety and Security Branch for the St James Police Division, Inspector Yvonne Whyte-Powell.

She explained that the decision was taken to craft programmes for the six to 17 age group very deliberately.

Said she: “This came out of a social intervention that the division started. We have looked at the dynamics and realised that the social intervention programmes are targeting the unattached youth, primarily between the ages of 17 and 29 under the Peace Management Initiative and CSJP...

“We recognise in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) that behaviour is formed long before you reach 17. We decided that we were going to do a programme for the young ones, so during the primary socialisation stage we [can] reach them… before the behaviour is formed; before they start to hate the police, and before they get involved in gangs.”

The truth of her comment is obvious. Yet, despite Jamaica's troubles with crime, violence, and socially unacceptable behaviour, the society continues to drop the ball in targeting children who are being badly brought up many by parents who are little more than children themselves.

We have said repeatedly and will continue to say it that the society has to look to taking care of all its children, as an absolute priority, in order to find sustained solutions to crime.

As the situation now stands, there are far too many children who are hungry most of the time; who are on the streets until all hours of night; who miss school more often than they attend; and who are growing up unloved, angry and resentful.

For those children, if they stay on the same path, it won't be difficult for evil, manipulative people to lead them to a life of crime.

In the case of the St James programme, Inspector Whyte-Powell noted that members of the community are integrally involved in providing voluntary services in some cases.

Secretary of the Community Development Committee Ms Ann Reid points to the obvious benefit of keeping children active in positive endeavours during the long summer when they would otherwise be left to their own devices at home. Family members and community leaders must now think ahead.

How do they proactively make sure that when the summer programme is over the children go to school and are taken care of?

Having picked up the ball, they musn't drop it now. They must continue to set an example for all Jamaica to follow.