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Region's youth worry about galloping crime

Published:Monday | March 15, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Crime and violence has been identified as the number one concern among adolescents and youth in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), according to a report from the CARICOM Commission on Youth Development.

This matter was associated with poverty, unemployment, politics and social inequities.

The commission, which was co-chaired by Jamaican academic Professor Barry Chevannes and Suriname's Yildiz Beighle, has been conducting research on youth in Caribbean with the view of presenting recommendations on advancing youth development in the region since March 2007.

"Constant exposure to crime and violence leads to emotional blunting, high stress, grief and a sense of loss," the report read.

The report stated that young people across the region spoke of fear, perceptions of lack of safety the and concern for their general well-being as a result of the increased crime and violence. It also stated that said violence caused among youth self-imposed curfews, diminished participation in community activities, restriction of night-time activities and changes in social practices.

Leading cause of death

The report stated that among males aged 15-24, homicides at 19.8 per cent was the leading cause of death, followed by HIV/AIDS, 13.6 per cent, and motor vehicle accidents at 9.2 per cent.

In Jamaica, crime has impacted youth and adolescents more than any other age group in the island. Criminal statistics show that both the perpetrators and victims of crimes are disproportionately youth between the ages of 14 and 25.

Health and well-being was also listed as another issue. Youths were concerned about the limited access to hospitals/clinics, medical personnel and health care, particularly for HIV/AIDS.

The report also said long waiting periods in emergency rooms and lack of confidentiality were issues young people complained about.

The document also found that youth policies across the region were weak, outdated and rarely implemented, and called for CARICOM to invest more in youth.

The report also recommended that CARICOM member states deepen the democratic culture by including youth in the processes. Specifically, the report called for a democratically elected youth representative entity be established to become the central national institutional body for development.