BelizeCrime / Crime PreventionEducationGender IssuesGuyanaHealthHuman DevelopmentMemberNon-communicable Diseases (NCDs)Press ReleasesSecuritySt. Kitts and NevisTrinidad and TobagoYouth Development


(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) Dr Heather Johnson, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat Deputy Programme Manager, Youth Development says, young people who are constantly exposed to violence invariably develop complex psychosomatic illnesses which very often lead to other chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, mental illnesses and heart diseases.

Dr Johnson who also majored in psychology was delivering opening remarks to the national consultation on youth gangs and gang violence organized by the CARICOM Secretariat with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in St Kitts and Nevis on Monday, 14 November.

She added that while globalization and new media technologies had created several opportunities for young people, it had also exposed them to unprecedented levels of risk and vulnerability.

Dr Johnson pointed out that young people who were both the victims and perpetrators of violence were committing more vicious and senseless crimes each day. She stressed that an effective response to this problem was needed urgently.

She was convinced that the CARICOM Social Development and Crime Prevention Action Plan was one such response that could help to address this unfortunate phenomenon and that the pilot project targeting vulnerable youth was a giant step in the right direction.

Gangs and gang violence among CARICOM youth is one of the priority issues to be addressed in the CARICOM Crime Prevention and Social Development Action Plan (CCPSD), which is being implemented on a phased basis. The plan was jointly developed by the CARICOM Secretariat in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to address the development challenges posed by the high levels of crime and violence in the Region. The youth gang violence component of the action plan is designed to provide intensive support services and programmes to reduce involvement in gang life and to equip ‘gang leavers’ with life skills to help them reintegrate into their societies. The programmes and services, to be developed in consultation with stakeholders, will be implemented through pilot projects at the community level.

Ms Sharon Rattan, Permanent Secretary (acting) Ministry of Social Development Culture and Gender Affairs, St Kitts and Nevis endorsement the remarks by Dr Johnson and asserted that the consultation was in response to the Government’s ongoing search for solutions for tackling crime as opposed to law enforcement side of it.

She told the wide cross section of stakeholders who attended the consultation that it was important to keep the children’s future at the centre of the consultation because the more a child was at risk the more likely he would be influenced to join gangs.

St Kitts and Nevis is one of the four countries selected to pilot the project which is designed to mitigate gangs and gang violence through social interventions. The others are Belize, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The next consultation will take place in Trinidad and Tobago within the next two weeks.

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