First primary school Police Youth Club launched in Manchester
Students of the Robin's Hall Primary School participating in singing at last Wednesday's launch of the school's Police Youth Club. (Photo: Kasey Williams)

ROBIN'S HALL, Manchester — Civic, political, education and security leaders have lauded the Manchester police's Community Safety and Security Branch for targeting children at an early age by launching the first primary school Police Youth Club (PYC) in this south-central parish.

The leaders believe that the formation of a PYC at the Robin's Hall Primary School, located in north-east Manchester, will benefit the community and be a model to others in steering children away from violence.

Constable Rayon Thompson, Manchester's PYC coordinator, highlighted that the organisation has 10 active clubs in the parish.

"At the time when the first Police Youth Club was formed [nationally], Jamaica was going through a rough time socially, and morality was at an all-time low. Today in 2023 Jamaica is sadly at that very same crossroad once more," he told his audience at the launch of the school's PYC last Wednesday.

May is being celebrated as Child Month under the theme 'Children need our love and protection. Get involved'

Inspector Tanecia Johnson, principal of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Cadet Academy, in addressing leaders and students at the PYC launch, said the club will benefit children and society.

"The theme 'Children need our love and protection. Get involved' is suitable for this occasion as we seek to assist in the holistic development of our children. They need affection, protection and direction. Children [face] violence, exploitation and abuse. This happens in every country and in places where children should be most protected such as their homes, schools and even online. As we seek to live and protect our children, it is crucial that we think about the best interest of the child. This must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them," she said.

"Too often we force our children into maturity [by] allowing them to make decisions that they are not properly equipped to handle…We have too many broken children in our society, which spiral into broken adults and then we try to play heroes and heroines trying to mend the broken pieces," she added.

The Robin's Hall PYC has gained support of the Christiana PYC and its president, Sandra Whyte.

Custos of Manchester Garfield Green lauded Whyte and the Manchester police for focusing on children from an early age.

"We need to save our young people from as early as this stage and the Police Youth Club is a good place to make the change and have an impact on them…The country is facing many challenges including crime, violence, drug abuse and indiscipline, but through this police youth club we now have an opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of our young people and the future of our country," he said.

He encouraged the children to value the lessons and experience they garner from the PYC.

"Whatever you learn today or tomorrow is going to be of value to you and your country years from now. Don't take it lightly, but embrace the teachings, practices that come your way. You are going to need them later on in life," he said.

He commended the police for their service through community policing.

"Your dedication and commitment to our young people is commendable and I know that your efforts will make a lasting impact on the lives of many," he said

Member of Parliament for Manchester North Eastern Audley Shaw shared similar sentiments.

"This is important for the Robin's Hall Primary School. I really want to thank the security force for making this effort. Let us make sure that we embrace the opportunity of this youth club with all hands on deck to make sure that we benefit…Prevention is better than cure," said Shaw.

"They [children] are not too young to be able to focus on some important things [and] not too young to pursue excellence," said Shaw.

Head of Area Three Police, Acting Assistant Commissioner Glenford Miller, stressed that the early intervention in steering children away from violence is essential.

"I want to commend you all for the bold step that you [children] have taken in actually becoming members of the Robin's Hall Primary Police Youth Club. We realise that when the [children] reach high school, sometimes we lose them…A lot of the high school students sometimes find themselves right into crime, because they are influenced from the outside," said Miller.

"It is our responsibility to guide…the young minds for them to stay away from crime and for them to become positive role models later on in society," he added.

The school's PYC has an eight-member executive.

School Principal Kamile Madden-Lee said PYCs have been integral in community development.

"It is a rather historical occasion as today marks the launch of the first primary school police youth club in the parish of Manchester. We are excited as a school to be a part of this wonderful initiative, which we believe will have a positive and profound effect on our students," she said.

BY KASEY WILLIAMS Staff reporter

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