Democratic Labour Party (DLP) candidate for St George South, Dawn- Marie Armstrong has accused the current government of failing the island’s young people since being voted into office.
She charged that enough has not been done for the nation’s youth, despite that demographic’s support for the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in the May 2018 general elections.
“When we talk about the youth, and we talk about the lack of opportunity and we talk about the crucial role that the youth vote played in 2018 in this country in swinging an election, I would have thought that in 2022 we would have seen a plan laid out for our youth,” Armstrong said.
She noted that young people with criminal records have had the most difficult time, as they cannot seem to be forgiven for their mistakes.
“These young men and these young women come back into society looking for a chance, looking for a break and are condemned by a police certificate of character. No jobs. They’re branded as being troublemakers. Not once has anyone stopped
to think this young woman or this young man may need additional help,” the DLP political hopeful said.
“But you say counselling. Oh, they had counselling, but what type of counselling? There are talking therapies and there are doing therapies. There is psychology and there is psychiatry. How do we know what assistance our young people need if they’re not working with qualified people to be able to determine what they need in order to receive assistance?”
Armstrong told DLP supporters that the current system does not work in favour of troubled youth and that needs to change.
“When they find themselves trying to make ends meet and then they end up in an adult correctional facility, that’s the end of it for them. But I say to my young audience tonight, I say to my parents tonight, if I am speaking to you and you have a young son or a young daughter in your home who is struggling with getting back on the straight and narrow because this government has failed them, I, Dawn-Marie Armstrong, say to you tonight that I will lobby for an arm of the public service to begin to employ young offenders to decrease the rate of recidivism in this country,” she stated, adding that young people should not have their mistakes held against them.
Her comments have drawn a swift response from PROPS Barbados, a charity that works at reintegrating former wards of the state and offers intervention for those that would otherwise become wards of the state.
CEO and founder Ayo Ololara said Armstrong made some erroneous statements as it relates to young people obtaining certificates of character.
“The intention, I believe, was to give the impression that these people would find it impossible to gain employment because of the inability to receive such certificates without blemishes. I want to clear the air on this because this is simply not true. Offences committed as juveniles in Barbados do not carry over into adulthood. I think that it is unfortunate that Ms Armstrong has not clarified that the real issue is one of discrimination on this island towards formerly incarcerated teens or adults after they have paid their dues to society,” she said in a statement.
Ololara pointed out that PROPS is able to obtain clean certificates of character for any former ward just as easily as for any other law-abiding adult citizen.
She stressed that the issue of recidivism is a vexing one and “politicizing it in such an opportunistic manner is just as distasteful as assuming there is no womanhood without motherhood.”
“Those people from the demographic referred to deserve our compassion and assistance. In many instances, they are in the circumstances … because of the actions of adults. What they don’t deserve is the adults that should know better drawing attention to their predicament, inaccurately at that, in their own self-interest. We need to do better,” Ololara said. (BT)