More mentors needed for young men - Charles Jr
Minister of state in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, is urging more Jamaicans to offer themselves as mentors for the country's young men.
The objective, he said, is to steer them away from illicit activities and encourage them to become productive members of society.
"We want to start focusing more on prevention, which means we have to deposit in their minds as young men that even if you don't have a father figure, we want to present to you a role model - whether male or female - that can guide you," he said.
Senator Charles Jr was speaking to JIS News following the presentation ceremony for participants in the Children's Drug Treatment Programme at the Institute of Jamaica's East Street headquarters, downtown Kingston, on Friday.
"Most of the individuals here for drug treatment, and also most in our care in the correctional institutions, both adult and juvenile, are males; as a matter of fact, over 90 per cent. It is something that I am going to be pioneering and leading, the approach which will require us to make that investment, that deposit in our young men," he said.
The state minister informed that discussions are under way with members of the Department of Correctional Services to use the stories and experiences of adult inmates to encourage juvenile offenders to change their behaviour and shun a life of crime.
In the meantime, he hailed the entities involved in the Children's Drug Treatment Programme, noting it offers a good alternative to incarceration for young drug-dependent offenders.
"Undoubtedly, these are the types of programmes that we need to be enhancing and strengthening and expanding throughout the country," he said. During the ceremony, six young men who have successfully completed the programme were recognised.
The Children's Drug Treatment Programme was started in September 2014 and involves supervision of drug-dependent offenders by a team comprising a judge, probation after-care officer and treatment providers specialising in substance abuse, counselling, drug detoxification and rehabilitation.
The programme is part of the Drug Treatment Courts, which have existed in Jamaica since 2001.
The programme involves collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, Kingston and St Andrew Family Court, Child Development Agency, National Council on Drug Abuse, RISE Life Management Services, Organization of American States, and the United States Agency for International Development, under its Community Empowerment and Transformation Project.