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Gov't hosting violence prevention forum Thursday

Tuesday, January 28, 2014    

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THE Government says more than 500 representatives of a number of groups are expected to participate in a violence prevention forum scheduled for this Thursday in Kingston.

According to the Ministry of National Security, the all-day National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention is part of the 'Unite for Change' movement to create awareness, build social capacity, share best practices and drive action by Jamaicans from all walks of life to take the country back from the clutches of criminals.

"This forum is expected to be one of the biggest and most inclusive ever to be held on the island to look at violence prevention among the youth of this country," a news release quoted National Security Minister Peter Bunting yesterday.

"Although it is anchored by the Ministry of National Security, it is a collaborative movement spanning seven key ministries of government and stakeholders from the private sector, civil society and academia," Bunting added.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller will make a special presentation at the forum, planned for the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.

In addition to the prime minister and Bunting, the other local and international presenters confirmed for the forum are minister of finance and planning, Dr Peter Phillips; minister of youth and culture, Lisa Hanna; Dr Gary Slutkin, epidemiologist and innovator in violence reduction; as well as Jack Calhoun, author of the books Hope Matters and Through the Hourglass and who is a leading voice on violence prevention and family policy in the USA.

Among the topics to be covered are: 'Violence: A Public Health Crisis', led by Dr Slutkin; 'Crime: A Public Health Crisis... the Jamaican Experience', with Dr Elizabeth Ward, epidemiologist and chair of Violence Prevention Alliance, and Damian Hutchinson, executive director of Peace Management Initiative.

In addition, Courtney Brown, director of Crime Prevention and Community Safety in the Ministry of National Security, will present the 'Unite for Change Framework'.

Five concurrent workshops are planned for the afternoon segment of the forum. Three of them will seek commitments on forging partnerships between key stakeholder groups, while the other two will focus on primary crime prevention in the family, school, and community, as well as violence interruption and responses to trauma.

The ministry said that at the end of the forum, Bunting will present a 'Statement of Action' outlining areas for follow-up and the next steps towards realising the objectives of 'Unite for Change', which aims to empower law-abiding citizens to work together to create a united front against crime.

As a build-up to the forum, the ministry, in collaboration with church groups and social intervention organisations, kicked off the 'Unite for Change' movement in 24 communities across the island over the Christmas season with one-day corner leagues, peace-building workshops, and church services.

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