THE EDITOR, Sir:
I watched TVJ news about a week ago in awe, noting the sentiments of the parents of the two female juveniles being held at the Fort Augusta correctional facility and what brought them there.
Apart from the fact that they are juveniles, their crime would have had to be serious/dangerous for them to be housed in the prison as against one of the children's homes. I am cognisant of the fact that these children can be difficult to manage, but with the right strategies/interventions, control can be achieved.
Most times, just being locked up does not help the rehabilitation anticipated, but what is sure is that the exposure to prison exposes them to more dangerous ideas and people along with more cost to the state.
I know that there is need to address improper behaviour before it worsens, but what seems to be lacking is structured student-support services, along with parental involvement in the process and the schools their children attend.
In the case of these two students/juveniles, their right to protection as outlined in the Convention of the Rights of the Child has been violated.
I will not fool myself into thinking that the students who are in conflict with the law are blameless and helpless souls. What has been noted in schools is that those students, who came from families where they observed violence at home, believe it was acceptable to use violence to solve problems.
MISBEHAVIOUR AFFECTS OTHERS
Additionally, when they see no consequences for bad behaviour, not only do they continue in that vein, but their conduct worsens, with more and more students joining in.
I have linked schools and prisons because these behaviours are first exhibited in the schools, resulting in suspensions and expulsions, and eventually loitering on the corners and being in conflict with the law.
Even when they are in conflict with the law, they have right to protection, in keeping with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
There needs to be greater collaboration with the police, schools, community, children's services and social workers with a view to keeping them out of prison. If they have to be confined, it must be a place in their best interest.