- National Knowledge Sharing and Empowerment Network on peace, crime prevention and citizen safety and security for youth organizations recommended
Youth Leaders and delegates of the virtual Youth Summit on Crime and Violence have issued a 14-point Call To Action requesting stronger and expanded youth participation in the implementation of citizen security, safety and crime prevention programmes.
In making their request at the end of the two-day Summit, staged 21 – 22 September, youth leaders declared that youth stand at the epicenter of the epidemic of Crime and Violence, and can offer underutilized insight, skills, networks and non-traditional resources to citizen safety and security interventions emphasizing crime prevention.
The Call To Action, tabled and digitally voted by delegates, was developed by 11 youth groups in Jamaica. Ten of the 11 are innovating and leading citizen security and safety projects in crime hotspots under the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Amplifying Youth Voice and Action (AYVA) project, and the eleventh is a regional youth NGO headquartered in Kingston.
The Summit was supported under the auspices of the AYVA project in partnership with the Ministry of National Security, Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, UNESCO Caribbean, Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, Planning institute of Jamaica and RISE Life Management Services.
Among the 14 calls are a request for highlighting and rewarding youth groups and organizations tackling the roots of crime and addressing the issues of marginalized, vulnerable and at-risk populations.” The call to action declared that this could pave the way for exposure and normalization of positive youth-led citizen security and safety interventions”.
Other calls in the 14-point framework include: More structured and consistent support to aid youth groups and organizations with human, technical and financial resources to support community projects that address crime prevention, with emphasis on citizen security and safety; and strengthening investments by government and private sector in youth advocacy to promote the role of young people as positive agents of change and key partners for peace and prevention of all forms of violence.
Delegates also called for strengthening, developing, and adapting anti-bullying and safety training programs and creating accessible resources and programs for parents and teachers to help address bullying in schools and communities. Youth leaders in developing this call to action agreed that bullies can transition to adulthood with violent and criminal tendencies that should be curtailed when they surface in the earlier years.
The Call to Action also includes a recommendation made by UNDP Resident Representative Denise E Antonio for government and development partners to consider a Knowledge Sharing and Empowerment Network on peace, crime prevention and citizen safety and security for youth organizations, to ensure sustainability of the gains made through the AYVA Project, and other similar initiatives being implemented locally.
In her address to the Summit, Ms Antonio explained that the proposed network could serve to systematize best practices in youth-led community-based crime prevention methods and provide mentorship, resources, crime prevention micro grant funding and other opportunities to youth-led organizations. She pointed out that the network could be a product of institutional arrangements already in place between the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Education Youth and Information and could include select private and civil society organizations.
The Resident Representative pointed out that youth are disproportionately involved as perpetrators and victims of crime and violence yet, rarely lead the interventions designed to address this issue. “Addressing systemic inequalities, especially those faced by marginalize youth is therefore a critical input into the comprehensive approach being taken to reducing crime and violence,” she said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Hon Dr Horace Chang said the mandate of the AYVA project is consistent with the direction the government has taken in its citizen security plan which is part of the overall plan to secure a peaceful society through Plan Secure Jamaica. He called it a holistic whole of government approach to deal with the issue of crime and violence.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Hon Robert Nesta Morgan in his remarks said government is working on several policies and programmes to reduce the chances of youth becoming involved in crime and violence, including plans to repeal laws giving judges the discretion to incarcerate youth without charge, and group parenting campaign”. The Minister also announced a new 24- hour 3-digit hotline - 211 - to report child abuse and neglect.
Other dignitaries addressing the Summit included Director and Representative, UNESCO Caribbean Cluster Office, Saadia Sanchez Vegas; Director General, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr Wayne Henry; RISE Life Management Services’ Executive Director, Sonita Abrahams; and Chairman of the PSOJ’s National Security & Justice committee, Lt. Commander George Overton.
Youth groups presenting included the grant-funded AYVA organizations: I-SEEED Youths; Youth Inspiring Positive Change Ja. Ltd | YIPCJA (Positive ORG); Bully Proof Kids International (BPKI); National Police Youth Club Council Of Jamaica (NPYCCJ) Total Health Services; Norwood Community Development Benevolent Society (NCDCBS); The Every Mikkle Foundation; Called to Lead Jamaica; The Jahmekya Project and Youth For Development Network; Young Women/Men of Purpose (YWOP/YMOP). They were joined by Youths For Excellence, a regional youth NGO headquartered in Jamaica.
The Call To Action can be reviewed at Call To Action – Ready Set Great (readysetgreatja.com)