Fri | Jan 24, 2020

Justice Ministry aiming for cultural shift in dealing with troubled children

Published:Sunday | February 10, 2019 | 2:51 PM
Senior Director for Corporate Services in the Ministry of Justice, Sandra Graham.

The Ministry of Justice is seeking to spark a cultural shift in the way troubled children are dealt with in Jamaica.

Consequently, the justice ministry is to start training members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), along with other key stakeholders, in child diversion practices.  

Child diversion is the process of using alternative measures to formal judicial proceedings to deal with children who are alleged, accused or recognised to have infringed the law.

Senior Director for Corporate Services in the Ministry of Justice, Sandra Graham, told JIS News, that deans of disciplines and guidance counsellors in schools are also being targeted for training, citing them as pivotal partners in the broader restorative justice framework. 

She indicated that preparations are under way for this engagement, adding that “there is a schedule that has been put together for the training to take place”.

The senior director pointed out that efforts are being made to include all individuals and entities responsible for the care of children “when they come into conflict with the law”.

She advised that the justice ministry has already instituted initial measures, with the placement of child diversion officers at restorative justice centres islandwide.

Meanwhile, Graham argued that the nature of child diversion practices is likely to spark a cultural shift in Jamaica, as it is designed to change the manner in which troubled youth are dealt with.

“The direction that we are taking with the new face of justice is more rehabilitative than punitive; so child diversion will allow us to divert these children from the formal judicial system. It will allow them the opportunity to be exposed to different ways of dealing with some of those issues that are traumatic for them and to provide them with the tools and support they need to be their best,” she outlined.

The use of child diversion measures is provided for in the Child Diversion Act, the provisions of which is aimed at ensuring every child in conflict with the law is treated in a manner that recognises and upholds human dignity and worth; diverts the child away from engaging in deviant and delinquent behaviour; and instils in the youngsters, respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

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