Georgetown : Specific emphasis will be placed on empowering delinquent youths this year, as the Ministry of Social Protection is developing a programme that will seek to prevent them being institutionalised.
In keeping with the Government’s vision of developing strong families, the Ministry also sought to delink the Probation Department from the Social Services programme. Subsequently, a Youth Service Section was created within the Social Services department to deal with issues relating to delinquent youths.
According to Mr. Gavin Munroe, Chief Probation and Social Services Officer, there has been an increase in social issues, and the Ministry wants to ensure that it has a comparable response from the department in dealing with them.
He explained that the Youth Services section will focus specifically on youth empowerment and development. The intention, he said is to prevent delinquent youths from being institutionalised, and create programmes for those who are already in institutions such as the New Opportunity Corps (NOC).
“We have a situation where a lot of juveniles are being placed at the NOC and we recognised that institutionalising children often times is not the better thing, but it should be the last resort, and so that section of our department as it relates to youth services is working on that. We are working towards reducing the amount of children who are placed in the NOC, and even for those who are placed there,” Munroe explained.
Efforts will also be placed on developing strong family units, since this has a great role to play in dealing with the issue of juvenile delinquency. In this regard, Munroe noted that the Social Services Unit has been reaching out to communities and organising sports events and other activities to target men.
“We recognised that you just cannot divorce issues relating to children with the family. So while we deal with delinquent children, we want to ensure that we look at the conditions in which children are nurtured, and we want to ensure that those conditions are conducive for the positive development for our children,” Munroe further emphasised.
These issues will be addressed collaboratively with other institutions, groups and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). He said that the Ministry has been actively involved in the drafting of the National Youth Policy, and has been raising some of these concerns.