#Jamaica, April 24, 2018 – Kingston – The Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch (C-TOC) of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) will be developing a checklist that will help school officials to identify students with deviant behaviour traits.
The checklist, which will be developed over the next few weeks, forms part of a strategy being developed in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Information aimed at deterring students from engaging in illicit activities, particularly gangs.
Portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, said he fully endorses the move, noting that the Ministry is looking forward to the partnership. He pointed out that it is important for the Ministry to monitor every child, particularly those deemed at-risk, in order to provide the necessary support that will ensure they lead productive lives and not turn to crime.
“So once you identify vulnerable households, vulnerable mothers, boys, children, there is a strategy to support, because if you don’t… that is where the gang comes in with the support,” he said, noting that many youth join gangs for familial support.
He was speaking at a high-level strategy meeting at the Ministry’s National Heroes Circle location on Monday (April 16).
Chief Education Officer, Dr Grace McLean also welcomed the initiative, noting she was heartened that the JCF has taken the lead in working directly with the Education Ministry to encourage positive behaviour change among youth.
She noted that this partnership would involve the development of a database within the Ministry on those students who have displayed deviant behaviour, in order to track them through the education system. In addition, the JCF would also provide information on these individuals to the Ministry relating to matters outside of the system.
“This is one area that I really want us to move quickly on, because we are of the opinion that if we are able to identify these deviant behaviours very early, and if youngsters know that education is tracking them, other services such as the JCF are also tracking them, then we expect to start seeing some kind of turnround,” she said.
Director of Safety and Security in Schools, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Coleridge Minto, who led the talks on the collaboration, explained that CTOC has agreed to assist the Ministry with the training of all principals of public schools, and is to be extended to principals of independent schools.
Principals, along with Deans of Discipline, teachers, and other stakeholders will be educated in identifying traits or signs that a student is likely to become a part of a gang, so he/she can be diverted from this path.
ASP Minto said the initiative is part of a wider strategy of the Ministry in taking a more proactive approach to safety and security within schools.
“We recognise that if we are going to see better results in the years to come, then we will have to not only look at those who already dropped out of the system, and those at risk, but those who are potentially at risk,” he said.
For Head of C-TOC, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Fitz Bailey, this intervention is one sure-fire way to keep troubled youth on the right side of the law.
“We believe that the way we can impact our youth and the way we can create a more lasting change, is to target the youth that are at risk within the schools,” he said.
This partnership, for which an agreement is to be signed soon, is one of several areas of collaboration the Ministry and the JCF are to engage in. Other areas include public education on responsible use of social media; anti-gang initiatives, including the staging of an Anti-Gang Week; and special presentations by C-TOC to school officials.
The activities are to be funded under the US$3-million Safe Schools Project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).