Fri | Jun 2, 2023

Letter of the Day | A sustainable solution to crime and violence

Published:Monday | January 17, 2022 | 12:08 AM


Youth and crime data from the 2017-2030 National Youth Policy reveal that youth are the main perpetrators and victims of crime and violence in Jamaica. Therefore, in order to improve the situation, we must zoom in on our youth and the agents that socialise them. The current results that we are getting from our youth mean that there is something inherently wrong with the approach that we are using to socialise and prepare them to take their place in society.

The old 15th-century proverb: “Children should be seen and not heard” still permeates how the agents of socialisation treat with children and youth in Jamaica.

This approach to how we treat with children and youth is the main cause for the alienation of some youth, who are now wreaking havoc on the country by engaging in various criminal activities, ranging from larceny to vicious murders. If we want to change the results that we are getting from our youth, we must change our approach! To change the output, we must change the input. It was Einstein who said that it is insanity to keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results.

The positive youth development approach, through social and emotional learning, must be the new philosophy that guides all people in Jamaica. Child and youth development is everybody’s business, because the results of their development – positive or negative – will affect everyone! The positive youth development approach sees young people as assets and valuable contributors to national development. In this approach, young people are seen as equal partners in the development process.

Positive youth development (strength-based approach) is a strategy as to how we engage with our children and youth.

I am pleased to make the following recommendations for the implementation of the positive youth development approach through social and emotional learning:

1. Start with the formal youth workers – schools, NGOS, CBOs, faith-based organisations, etc.

Ensure that all complete certification in positive youth development, and social and emotional Learning.

2. All parents will receive said certification in positive youth development, positive discipline, and social and emotional learning.

3. Social and emotional learning (SEL) must be integrated in all lessons and all programmes.

4. K-13 SEL curriculum development and implementation

5. The Youth Division of the Ministry of Education is empowered to take the lead in this transformation.

6. SEL courses must be readily available to the entire Jamaican population and be systemised in all training institutions and throughout the labour force (all workers must be SEL ready!).

I will end with the quote: “Where focus goes, energy flows and results show.”

Let us now focus on the Jamaica that we want and the actions we must take, right now, to get there!


MSc Ed

Author, Guidance Counsellor,

Child and Youth Advocate