Government is embarking on an intense $100 000 anti-violence campaign which will also target gangs and boys on the block.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Dwight Sutherland made this announcement on the weekend, at the launch of Government’s Anti Violence Campaign, at the Wildey Gymnasium, Wildey, St Michael, where he stressed that given the vastness of the challenge of crime and violence that confronts the country, no stone should be left unturned in the efforts to arrest the situation.
The minister said the campaign will include, anti-violence messages aimed at reinforcing positive thinking and reducing violent thoughts, a focus on occupying the talents and time of young people as a means of reducing the risk factors for violence and empowering young people, families and communities by providing viable skills, opportunities for self-development and personal well-being.
He said the first phase of the programme will involve the rollout of a series of sensitization and other activities using online media-based strategies through various social platforms.
Sutherland also noted that given the mandate to promote the programme within communities, his ministry will implement its Community Anti-Violence Intervention Programme, through partnering with various social development agencies to provide structured psycho-educational interventions geared towards the promotion of behavioural change and strengthening protective factors. The community project will involve staff, community volunteers, public/private agencies all of whom will be critical in building out programmes in community centres, schools and online.
He said: “The programme will include, but is not limited to, a series of anti-violence training workshops for youth groups and community members; mainstreaming Anti Violence Campaign messages and interventions in the Division of Youth Affairs programmes, an anti-gun campaign and a campaign in schools on building healthy relationships using social media.”
The minister also indicated that the campaign has incorporated a school strategy, aimed at reducing aggressive behaviours in children by providing preventive intervention services from an early age. The programme will encourage and teach students and staff simple rules and activities aimed at improving social skills and reinforcing positive behaviour.
Sutherland said the inputs for the strategy will include programmes that emphasize praising children and avoiding put-downs, noticing and correcting hurts and righting wrongs, encouraging peer to peer champions, a peacebuilders programme, art and essay competitions and a Youth Parliament Debate.
The ministry will also be providing a range of complementary activities that will ensure that human, financial and social services are distributed as front-end investments to build strengths and minimize risk factors for deviance, including providing targeted assistance to young persons through the Building Blocks Project to support the establishment of business enterprises.
Sutherland said: “These programmes will have the broad objective that includes preparing young Barbadians for participation in national development as guided by the National Youth Policy; retraining and retooling young people to meet the domestic regional and global labour markets; engaging partnerships for the development and mechanisms to support access to diverse employment opportunities to reduce unemployment, youth crime and violence.” (AH)