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At-risk youth get second chance

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Forty-four youngsters who have been in conflict with the law have been given a second chance to turn their life around and make a positive contribution to society.

Over the past two years, the youngsters have been engaged in a reintegration programme being undertaken by the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) III in partnership with the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).

Following assessment, the participants, who were referred by the DCS, received psychosocial services, vocational skills training in areas such as auto mechanics and general construction, remedial education, counselling and consistent monitoring and follow-up by CSJP case management officers.

Ten additional individuals are currently engaged in the programme.

At a ceremony held at the Ministry of National Security's Oxford Road offices on Monday to celebrate the success of the beneficiaries, Portfolio State Minister, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, commended the CSJP III and its partners for the transformative work.

“This is an opportunity for us to say to Jamaica, to those who are most vulnerable and at-risk, that those that some label as not deserving can become the best among us. They can become the next generation of champions to move our country forward,” he noted.

He expressed the hope that the publicity around the programme will inspire confidence in those struggling to maintain a positive path in society.

“To achieve greatness [in the country]…, we have to treat with crime and violence. We have to create an environment where people feel confident, where people can trust again, where people believe in themselves, in the process and in the system,” Charles Jr argued.

He pointed out that the ministry is working to ensure that rehabilitation and redemption are not just theoretical, but that efforts produce positive and tangible results “to show to our country that we are making a sustainable and real difference”.

Charles Jr hailed the beneficiaries, who have worked to transform their attitudes and circumstances, and urged them to be ambassadors for the Ministry and the CSJP in their communities.

“We expect you to walk and to talk and to conduct yourself in such a way that others looking on know that you have benefited from the CSJP programme and know that they too can change,” he added.

The young people involved in the reintegration initiative also benefited from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Internship Programme, aimed at improving the employability and social skills of participants as well as the relationship between young men and the security forces.

They are part of a wider pool of 2,319 youth from across 50 volatile communities across eight parishes, who have benefited from the case management services under CSJP III since January 2016.

CSJP case managers and other service providers have reported significant improvement in the participants' general outlook on life, productivity, sense of purpose and their problem-solving skills.

The CSJP is funded by the Government of Jamaica; Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); Britain's Department for International Development; and Global Affairs Canada formerly Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) of Canada.

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