Guyana! Here we come!

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It’s just a matter of hours before I will be on a plane from Jamaica to Guyana, participating in The Caribbean Summit on Youth Violence Prevention. I look forward to meeting and discussing solutions to preventing violence & cultivating a culture of peace. CLICK TO FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER & INSTAGRAM

In lead up to the summit, I asked a few questions to fully understand some of the problems our Caribbean neighbours are facing. I am still receiving responses and guess what? There is an APP! Yes an APP that is extremely resourceful, easy to use and navigate. It’s called Whova, feel free to check it out if your having an event. I noted on their website that they are The ‘Oscars’ of Event Technology.

So what exactly is The Caribbean Summit on Youth Violence Prevention?

According to the organisers; “The primary deliverable of the Caribbean Summit on Youth Prevention will be a working draft of an Advocacy and Action Agenda for Youth Violence Prevention that is shaped by youth, with input from key stakeholders, and builds on existing strategic planning frameworks within the region. The Summit will also facilitate strategic discussions for addressing the constraints that youth activists and organizations face in improving safety outcomes within their communities and societies.”

The Summit is co-convened by the United States Agency for International Development’s Eastern and Southern Caribbean’s Mission (USAID/ESC), in partnership with UNICEF, the Caribbean Development Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission, the CARICOM Secretariat and the Caribbean Learning for Youth Networking and Change Sessions (LYNCS) Network

So now that you have an overview of the forum, lets jump into my questions and answers session. I won’t post the names but the Caribbean Island to the responses.

  1. What does security mean to you? (Neville)

    St. Kitts and Nevis The state of being free from risk or harm that comes from intentional violence or other action.

    St. Kitts and NevisThe state of being secure and free to express yourself, to accumulate and use resources if he land and to the right to move freely.

    Dominica Being free and protected.

    Guyana Being able to walk freely and express myself without the fear of being hurt by other.

  2. What's your thoughts on the crime situation in your country? (Neville)

    Saint Lucia. Uncontrolled! With recent shootings in Saint Lucia, we’ve seen more police presence but we continue to cast a blind eye on what goes on. Persons are fearful for their lives if they get involved.

    Bahamas. Not enough is being done to stop to infiltration of illegal firearms into a country like that (Bahamas) that doesn’t sell or buy guns (except shot-guns used for hunting). There was an Inmate Profile study done by the College now University of The Bahamas which rang 3 alarms in-terms of the similarities between our current prison population:

    a) the impact of absentee fathers;

    b) a large portion of them had their first interaction with the criminal justice system as a juvenile; and,

    c) low education attainment levels.

    Another study determined that 86% of the perpetrators of murders in The Bahamas are young men between the ages of 18 - 35% and that 85% of victims of murder are young men 18-35 years old. Essentially, an entire generation is at war with themselves.

  3. What can you do to create & sustain a Culture of Peace? (Neville)

    Trinidad. Engage around it, define it, require it, recognize it, reinforce it, sustain it, replicate it.....build an infrastructure, framework and supporting mechanisms to support a culture of peace and security. Focus on building through schools, churches, community organizations. Create spaces and communities that are examples of the desired culture of peace and security.

    St. Kitts and Nevis. We also have to look to engage the parents, to often we focus on the children but don’t involve the parents in the process. Therefore, what we teach is not adhere to at home.

    St. Vincent. What can we do to create and sustain a culture of peace? I believe that our key to sustainability is in our children. According to Google Dictionary "Culture is the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society." One may fairly argue for their to be a change is culture there must be a change in what is being taught to our children and in extension our people. As a result our best bet in ensuring sustainability is by developing a curriculum that includes aspects of peace keeping etc for all ages.

    Bahamas. Parental involvement is so important, but I’m not a fan of holding parents legally responsible for the actions of their children in conflict with the law. Of course there are exceptions like: paying restitution, parental neglect or abuse that lead to the acts of crime and violence - but given that many Caribbean homes are single parent homes - we have to be careful how heavy handed we are with a parent who has one “bad” kid while trying to run a home and provide for the remaining children. I’ve said to a colleague here that parental involvement must go beyond state-mandated parenting classes and must include access to resources for parents who need help!

    Bahamas. I once saw a parent throw in jail for failing to attend court-ordered parenting classes for her son who was causing trouble at school - and her failure to attend was because she was working 2 jobs and trying to provide for 4 other children in the home.

    Bahamas. I’ve also seen a teenage father remanded because he did not attend court-ordered parenting classes - his absence was because the child’s mother had him in court for child support and that judge was threatening to jail him for arrears. He was in an impossible position ... miss work and attend classes to avoid jail for failure to oh child support OR go to work and still miss classes and still possibly end up in jail.

    Bahamas Social Workers and Probation Workers (who are overworked, understaffed and underpaid) need to develop more substitute parenting models that do not replace the role of the parents but supports parents who are falling short through hands-on means. You would be surprise how much a child can turn around if they receive positive and reinforcing attention from an adult who means them well.

    Bahamas I saw an article a few days ago, a school in Texas asked for 50 male volunteers to stand in for absent fathers for a “Breakfast with Dads” event and nearly 600 men turned up!!! 90% of the students at that school came from low-income families. I thought it was so powerful!!! Link to read. Talk about large scale mentor-ship on steroids!!!

Well I will stop here for now, but let’s keep the discourse going. Follow us social media and lets keep the conversation going. We all have a part to play in the healing and restoration of our nation.

Neville Charlton | nevillecharlton@positiveja.org