OECS Child Protection and Media Workshop
A number of journalists throughout the Caribbean including five Dominicans, all gathered at the Coyaba Hotel in Grenada on Tuesday June 11th, to participate in a two day workshop on the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Child Protection.
This workshop, aimed at adopting guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency, comprised of officials from the OECS, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Director of the Social and Sustainable Development Division (DSSD), OECS Secretariat, Mr. Bentley Browne, stated the workshop is intended to shape the idea of a comprehensive approach on reporting matters of Juvenile Justice.
A study, conducted by Jad Channan, a former World Bank Economist, revealed that as a result of annual crime, loss Tourism revenues, by CARICOM Regions exceeded US $200,000.00.
This equates to 7 percent of the Region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The study also indicated that if youth unemployment was reduced from 23 percent to eight percent, the Caribbean economies as a whole would benefit from an average increase of one percent in GDP.
Ms. Elizabeth Henry-Greenidge, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development in Grenada, emphasized the importance of this workshop as it suggests ways of aiding the future of our children and nation.
Ms. Greenidge added, going forward, members of the OECS need to review technical assistance to formulate a coordinated Juvenile Justice Reform Plan, complete with monitoring and evaluation mechanism for measuring the impact of the State and non-State initiatives.
“We are also studying a Case Management System that facilitates individualized treatment as well as collection of data for evidence based on policy development.”
She noted the need to recognize special skills in the development of a range of cycle social programmes for children at high risk for delinquency.
This includes Behavioral Qualification Programmes, Restorative Justice Interventions, in addition to the use of art, therapy engagements to balance the current emphasis of vocational training and counseling.
Charge D’Affaires of the United States Embassy in St. Georges Grenada, Mr. Louis J. Crishock believes this workshop is a critical part of the Caribbean’s basin security initiative.
The Juvenile Justice Component is a $5.8 million dollar project over three years that will be implemented in all of the six OECS independent States.
It will include; Capacity Building, Revitalization, and Legal Reform of the Juvenile Justice Sector, while reaching out to the civil society and media personnel, all of which are important to understand the difference between crime and delinquency.
“We count on you to report the news, but report it right, while protecting the rights of our children, “concluded Mr. Crishock.
Doctor Lisa McClean-Trotman, Communications for Development Specialist of UNICEF’s Office for the Eastern Caribbean, stated the perception of “You do the crime so you do the time,” cannot be applied as it relates to juveniles.
The media plays a vital role in mobilizing communities to form rehabilitation programmes for our juveniles.
“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” she went on to say.