BY Kilony Johnson:
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 10, 2018 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, joined representatives from the public and private sectors and civil society from within CARICOM, the Dominican Republic, as well as representatives from the United States State Department for high-level discussions on reducing and preventing crime among young people.
This is being done at the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative’s (CBSI) 8th Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Crime Prevention by Focusing on At-Risk Youth and Vulnerable Populations, being held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort from May 10-12. The meeting is being held under the theme, “Changing Social Norms Through Youth Engagement.”
The regional Technical Working Group (TWG), which was established in 2011, explores and pursues cross-cutting, comprehensive, and regional approaches to crime prevention with a particular focus on education, workforce development, civic participation and juvenile justice sector reform.
Addressing the opening ceremony on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Harris cited the findings of a 2012 UN Caribbean Human Development Report, which found that 80 percent of prosecuted crimes were committed by people aged 17 to 29 years.
“Crime has been found to mostly affect young people,” Dr. Harris said. “According to the 2012 UN Caribbean Human Development Report, young people are both the primary victims and importantly the perpetrators of crime in the region. So it is young people doing it to other young people.”
Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Harris, who serves as Minister of National Security in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, noted that “Our task today must therefore entail discussions on how to challenge attitudes and norms that are related to alcohol use and abuse, risky drinking behaviour, and drug use, as well as gender stereotypes and male-female interaction – but more generally, we must also explore effective solutions to reduce the cultural acceptance of violence; violence as a means of resolving conflict, as a normal part of raising children and as a channel of self-expression.”
Prime Minister Harris then challenged the regional and international experts to find ways of creating the type of environment necessary that allows for positive social engagement and empowerment of at-risk-youth and vulnerable populations.
“In seeking to prevent crime and change community norms, we ought to heighten our interactions with at-risk youths and vulnerable populations who face strong and often unrelenting pressures to conform to the expectations that their peer groups and adults in their communities have of them. Through our TAPS and Explorers groups, we hope to add value in our efforts to bring meaning and coherence to the lives of our young people,” the prime minister said.
Among the topics being discussed at the meeting are preventing crime through positive youth development, violence against girls and women, as well as crime and violence in the digital age.
The three-day event is expected to culminate with a Youth Rally organized by the Ministry of National Security on Saturday, May 12.