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CSJP making a difference in Spanish Town

Published:Saturday | May 4, 2013 | 5:00 AM

Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer

SPANISH TOWN, St Catherine:THE CITIZEN Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), an initiative of the Ministry of National Security, has been hailed by members of the Spanish Town community for helping disenfranchised youth gain employment and providing opportunities for them to access other beneficial programmes.

According to Kemar Cochrane, president of the United Youth Against Drugs in St Catherine, the CSJP creates employment for those who can be employed and assists those who need a skill by giving them the opportunity to access the necessary resources.

"Many young people, after leaving school, do not have the financial resources to access many of the educational programmes that are offered. If they even start the programme, they cannot maintain it," Cochrane told a recent Gleaner Community Forum at the offices of the Social Development Commission in Spanish Town.

"For some of these programmes, they would actually have to be in the communities for the young people to continue," he explained.

The difference, he said, is that CSJP identifies the issues and assists the young people so they can access and maintain themselves in the programmes.

"I can speak for the Homestead, Ellerslie Pen, and March Pen communities. The level of crime has been cut because the youth are more gainfully occupied and are not on the street idling," Cochrane disclosed.

He said the Homestead and March Pen communities each has a resource centre funded by the CSJP and are fully equipped with resources. The resource centres also provide training opportunities and the youth are utilising them.

Cochrane is calling for more initiatives such as the CSJP to assist with the development of the youth.

"There is some form of development, but it is very minimal. As a result, a majority of the young people who graduate from school cannot find gainful employment or cannot maintain programmes they have enrolled in that can help them to find a job," he stated.

PROVIDING AN ALTERNATIVE

"The lack of opportunities facilitates crime and violence," Cochrane lamented. "When you speak with many of these young people, they have a lot of ambition, and they have the desire to achieve; however, the opportunities are very limited. Even when they try to create opportunities, they are faced with so many obstacles they are not motivated to continue."

In November 2012, National Security Minister Peter Bunting disclosed that the CSJP spent $1 billion last year on interventions to benefit young people in volatile communities across the island.

The CSJP operates in 50 communities across eight parishes and seeks to ensure that people's socio-economic conditions are improved and protected on a sustainable basis. The national security minister said this intervention is aimed at limiting the number of criminal activities in those areas.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com