A New Juvenile Justice Act will be enacted by the end of March next year, which will place additional responsibility on parents and guardians to ensure that they “correct the environment” in which the island’s youth live.
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite told a joint meeting of the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) Christ Church constituency branches at the Deighton Griffith Secondary School last night that a lack of proper parenting has led to a disconnect between young people and their caretakers, resulting in a rise in deviant behaviour.
He added that there were families where several generations ended up before the courts and said Government was moving to break the cycle.
“The disconnect has been that you focus on the boys and girls and then they go back into the same environment and revert to the same bad behaviour. So unless you correct the environment, you are going to have the same cycle over again. That is the kind of action we are taking. We are treating the root cause. We want to ensure that we save more of our young people,” Brathwaite told supporters.
He cited a case where a recently released prisoner who was offered accommodation at his uncle’s home was encouraged by the uncle to sell drugs if he expected to continue living at the residence.
The St Philip South MP argued that the DLP had taken a more hands-on approach to combatting the recent spike in violent crime among the island’s youth, claiming that unlike the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) which produced policy papers and established a task force on crime “and let them sit on shelves and do nothing”, the Freundel Stuart administration was taking action.
“The response to crime cannot be, and will not be, ‘let us go into the media and make lots of noise’. The response has to be, ‘Why are so many of our young people involved in crime today? What makes it seemingly easier for some of our young people to be involved in violent crime? So let us look at the root causes. Let us go back into the system; let us see where they are failing’. We believe that they are failing in the family. What have we done? We started by having parenting classes. We have to revisit that because the parents who need to come to us for assistance are not the ones who are volunteering. I said to my colleagues we need to go to them where they are,” Brathwaite stressed.