The number two officer in the Police high command has warned there is no “silver bullet” solution to deviant behaviour among young people.
Erwin Boyce, currently acting as Police Commissioner, has declared that several factors contribute to crime and violence, and hinted that the entire society should share the blame as he addressed a graduation ceremony for a programme that steered about a dozen at-risk youth away from deviance.
Boyce said: “Teens and young people are part of a community where they are socialised in a particular way.
“There are many contributors to anti-social behaviour, but we have a tendency to blame agencies, individuals and the perpetrators, not recognising that we are all accountable in some way and it is only when all parties come together that we can work towards a solution.”
In seeking to explain why young people tended to get involved in conflicts, the acting police chief said that sometimes they acted in groups or they wanted to gain notoriety via social media.
He said: “Teenage criminal activity is often influenced by motives such as material gain or hedonism. In terms of physical violence, sometimes it is individual, other times it is as part of a group.
“Fights often come about when someone is provoked by the words or actions of another party and reacts.
“Sometimes in a group situation, people are trying to defend a friend, or brawls develop when crowds grow around a conflict when both sides want to show their toughness and refuse to seek a peaceful solution.
“At times they also get involved in this type of activity to gain popularity via social media, rather than finding peaceful solutions to any conflicts in which they might be involved.”
Boyce’s comments came as he gave the feature address at a graduation ceremony for the final group of participants in the Prince’s Trust International youth programme organised in association with the police force at the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa recently.
The 12-week programme involved young people between the ages of 16 and 25 who are not working or enrolled in school and may be considered at-risk” for deviant behaviour. Some of the youngsters have passed through the judicial system at some stage in their lives.
Revealing some of the programme’s success stories, its delivery manager, Inspector Roland Cobbler, declared that he had seen “significant growth and development” among the young participants.
He said: “There was one young man who was referred by the Probation Department that was very apprehensive about getting involved at first, but eventually he completed it and he is a changed man now.
“There are also two participants from this year’s cohort who are now at the Regional Police Training Centre studying to become police officers.”
The final group of 13 young men and women was assigned to the Police Southern Division. Their activities included completing a children’s play park at Chapel Land in St. Philip and a variety of team-building exercises including having to live with one another at the Nazarene Church Centre at Woodbourne.
They also trained with the Barbados Coast Guard and completed a 20-kilometre hike from Bath, St. John to Farley Hill, St. Peter.
They also had a ten-day job placement at several firms, and those companies have agreed to keep them on during the holiday season.
Participant Shem Harding was voted the programme’s Most Outstanding Student.