St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): “We pray for our young people that the bent and the tendency to revenge and to war and to kill will become one of love. And in our youths, that there be significant reversal of the inclination to be violent.”
The nation is praying for an end to youth involvement in crime and violence, as was brought out in Pastor Ericson Cumberbatch’s invocation at Tuesday’s Youth Anti-Crime March and Rally in Basseterre.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education William V. Hodge during his remarks at the rally said that the tagline for the event, “Stop ‘n’ Think before you proceed” was created with the knowledge that youth violence often occurs when young people act impulsively when their emotions run high.
“So, we get in a haste, we do things, as the local people would say our blood boils and we do things that later causes us much regret. I want to remind you young people that you are in control of your behavior, you have that power to decide if you allow a situation to escalate or get greater in intensity. And I want you as it were to remember these words always that Dr. Chitan has vigorously imparted to us over these weeks and months, always stop and think before you proceed.”
According to the United Nations, in many developed countries violent crimes are being committed at younger ages than in the past and there is growing concern that, in some countries, the proportion of violent crimes committed by youth has been increasing.
St. Kitts and Nevis is one such country grappling with increasing youth involvement in criminal activity. Local police crime statistics show that thirty-four juveniles were charged with major crimes in the Federation in 2016.
Those incidents included seven juveniles charged with drug possession, trafficking, or importation; six juveniles charged with larceny; four were charged with wounding offences; nine were charged with breaking and entering; one with robbery; two with possession or importation of firearms; and one juvenile being charged with manslaughter.
Recognizing the need to address the growing problem of anti-social and criminal behavior in the nation’s youth, the government, in its Federal Youth Policy Draft, outlines a number of plans, programs and initiatives meant to empower and assist young persons to become productive members of the society.
The Federal Youth Policy lists strategies that target the protection and rights of young people in the justice system including the formation and management of juvenile justice agencies, rehabilitation efforts for youth already involved in crime, and strong community engagement in youth involvement in crime.
The Police Force is also a critical stakeholder in the fight against youth involvement in crime.
The Force’s six-point plan of action to reduce homicides and violent crimes in the Federation has various initiatives that target young people, including reinstating the Police Boys Club, strengthening mentoring and police-related programs that target at risk youth, and revitalizing truancy programs.
The federation has also partnered with regional and international organizations and agencies to help curb the problem of juvenile delinquency.
The United Nations Development Program’s CARISECURE Project launched in St. Kitts and Nevis in January is one such regional approach the local government has subscribed to. The objective of the project is to improve youth crime and violence policy-making and programming throughout the region.
Minister of National Security, Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris has underscored the importance of reducing youth and other crime as it relates to the prosperity of all citizens, young and old.
“Violence and crimes impact and affect all in society, not just the victims. And therefore, they require the concerted effort of all of us to resolve and to ensure the safety and security of our country. We want that St. Kitts and Nevis, our beautiful twin island paradise, to become the safest place to live, the safest place for young people to grow, and the safest place to do business.”