Teenagers the most dangerous criminals - Chang
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang says the police force continues to grapple with a sharp increase in the number of young boys being involved in violent crimes, including murder.
According to Chang, the police are in a precarious position, as many of those vulnerable juveniles have been trained to become hardened criminals, who will shoot on a whim, but still have to be dealt with as children by the constabulary. He said the key to curtailing the problem is to target the adult men who are recruiting children into their gangs.
"Part of law enforcement is prevention and maintaining a healthy environment, and part of this is to prevent the recruitment and the continued recruitment into gangs of our children ... . We have some real bad guys out there. The gangsters are out there. They have to be dealt with, and I make no apologies to say we have police officers who are capable and will decisively deal with those individuals," Chang declared.
The national security minister was speaking at a Child and Justice Guidelines Training Seminar, staged by the Office of the Children's Advocate for the Jamaica Constabulary Force last Saturday morning at the Iberostar Suites in Montego Bay.
"We have established guidelines and you as police officers have to deal with them as children, and that is not exactly easy," he said.
He added that too many times, there is a child on the other side of the gun. "You have a lot of the 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds that fire guns. That is particularly worrying because at that age they have no sense of responsibility. They kill willy-nilly. The most dangerous shotta out there is a 17- or 18-year-old. They make no excuse. They have no conscience ... ."
The minister said early intervention is needed in order to get the requisite psychotherapy for children who are likely future offenders as soon as signs of them being 'troublemakers' are detected.
"How we treat them (children) will have significant bearing on our future. The extent to which we as a society create schools to educate, protect and provide for our children is the extent to which we secure our own collective future," he stated.
"Unless we ensure our children are given the right exposure, appropriate education and have somewhat of a productive future, the society will fail. That is the broad reality of it. Your work will become much more difficult and you will find yourself almost having to convert much of our police force and our army into some kind of protective entity. That is not the direction in which we intend to go," Chang said.