Wrong kids on programmes

| 25/08/2010

(CNS): There are more than 170 different programmes being provided by a plethora of organisations in the Cayman Islands for young people, it was revealed at a recent police-government public meeting. Although the focus of the current crime meeting roadshow has been the RCIPS, the commissioner and his district commanders have been accompanied by both the community minister and the health minister in order to provide a united front on the causes as well as the acts of crime. Mark Scotland, who has responsibility for youth, admitted that Cayman has no shortage of youth activities but the problem is they have not been coordinated or focused on the kids that need them most. (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

“Most of the country’s programmes are disproportionately targeted towards kids who are not at risk,” the youth minister, Scotland, told the audience in West Bay on Monday evening. He revealed that the country’s youth policy is currently under review with the goal of better targeting the existing programmes and initiatives towards young people that are vulnerable and in danger of slipping into a life of crime.
While Cayman may have numerous sports programmes, church activities and other initiatives designed for young people, most of the places are taken up by kids that are already in secure safe homes and are not likely to have behavioural problems.
Talking about crime being a community wide problemand not just a police problem,
Scotland said the presence of the ministers at the meetings was testament to the government’s commitment to looking at societal causes of crime. “Our presence here tonight shows that we acknowledge that the police are not the only ones responsible for dealing with crime,” Scotland said. “We are now putting in targeted programmes in place for youngsters that have been identified as youth at risk.”
Mario Ebanks pointed out that the report by crime expert Yolande Forde, which was published over four years ago in 2006, revealed exactly what societal issues were the underlying causes of criminality in young people and asked if any of the recommendations had been implemented.
Mike Adam, the community affairs minister, said that the report on the pre-disposing factors to criminality in the Cayman Islands had gone before Cabinet for consideration some time ago with a view to some policy implementation but it had been delayed because the National Security Council was now reviewing it and wanted to co-ordinate the findings with its long term crime plans. In March 2009 Adam had held a retreat with government officials working in the community with the hope of creating policies based on the report with a view to enhancing crime prevention strategies.
Adam acknowledged that there was a pressing need to provide programmes that dealt specifically with youngsters who were vulnerable and had behavioural problems at a very young age. He said there was evidence to suggest there were indicating factors in children as young as eight years old that they may be at risk of falling into a life of crime, providing an opportunity to intervene before that happened.
Adam said his ministry was working on a range of therapeutic programmes to deal with kids who were at risk, from providing nurturing family foster homes all the way through to more secure units for children who had already offended or who had drug dependency problems or both. He said the ministry was also paying close attention to whole families that are in crisis and need support.
During the meeting in George Town last week Adam said the ministry was trying to revitalize the foster care programme as he said it offered a better alternative to institutionalized care for kids that were vulnerable and encouraged people to join in the programme and consider becoming foster parents, especially with teens.
He also announced that the long anticipated legislation dealing with domestic violence would be coming before the Legislative Assembly at the next sitting and would address the issue of parents who allow children to witness violence as well as who are exposed directly to it.
“We have not been properly addressing the symptoms that lead to crime and behavioural problems at an early age but that’s what we intend to do,” Adam stated. “We are developing interim measures with trained staff that can provide the necessary therapeutic care for young people already in trouble and in need of intervention.”
He said the ministry wanted to co-ordinate its efforts with the police to help address crime from a holistic point of view via the community.
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  1. yeah right.... says:

     A young lady got up at the district meeting in Bodden Town and spoke directly to the minister about the duplication of services, lack of monitoring and evaluation of the services that already existed, and also the need to include the very group that they are trying to reach ("at risk youths") in the process of making the programs which are meant to reach them.  

    the minister’s response: looking bored and annoyed! 

    Why not take someone like this and make them a part of your team instead of frowning at them and giving them the stink eye? She’s young, outspoken and intelligent… oh wait, I forgot who I was talking to! This is not a government that likes their youngsters (particularly women) intelligent and outspoken! 


  2. MonkeySee says:

    The ‘wrong kids’ thing is ridiculous!!  Basically, what i gather from this article is that only kids who are at risk (is that really identifiable anymore ?) should be targeted while those of us hardworking middleclass families who care for our children & participate in their lives would be left out in the cold….

    The REALITY is that quite often, it IS us middleclass parents who go out of our way to provide our kids these opportunities.  We go to the games, drop off and pick up, coordinate our schedules around our kids to ensure that they are getting to participate in many of these wonderful programmes!

    What is the answer? I don’t know….but I don’t want my middleclass kids being pushed out or ineligible for the few programmes they are involved in already….

    Maybe there should be a programme for these "@ risk" parents….


  3. Anonymous says:

     The children in the Bodden Town district who may pass by the school a few times per term, are left to roam, destroy government property, steal, break houses and carry on illicit trade.  The traunt officer is too lazy to get out of his air-conditioned office to deal with the situation.  These are the at risk future criminals of tomorrow. 

    The parents should be held accountable for them and dealt with through the court system.  Give them a vacation in the HM Hotel.

  4. Living in hope says:

    I  agree with the Minister’s comments on youth activities not reaching the children that need them most. 

    The Education and Social Services Department could be more proactive and intervene at the opportune time if they were to cordinate their efforts and review the records of school children closely. Adam’s statement about children as young as 8 should not come as any surprise to anyone. There is no magical age for when social decay can begin. Most children are well socialized by that age what is needed more than any theraputic programme is to observe indicators and identify problems timely 

    The Education Law also needs to set higher standards for school attendance. An attendance rate 90% should not be considered satisfactory. There are less than 200 school days in a year and if a child misses more than 5 days,this should be a good indication that something is not quite right.

    The Government also needs to review and withdraw their financial support to those organizations that do not reach out to the very children that needs their services most. Driving around a mini bus full of children does not really make a youth programme.

    This article seem to indicate that some youth programmes in Cayman may still be exluding the more energetic and wayward children. However history is full of stories of esteemed citizens who were once kicked out of youth programmes and schools and churches. Sometimes it is not the child, it is the youth programme that is the problem.    

  5. noname says:

    Woahhhhh…..wait a second here! Kids in secure homes need programs too! This is an important part of the whole package that helps to mold our children into wholesome future citizens. A goodstable family life is very important but it is still only a part of the package.

    Does it make sense to take the flour away from the good cake in order to give it to the "not so good" cake? Do you want all the cakes to go bad ……or it is better to go and get more flour? The ol’ "RobinHood’ theory does not work!

    • Pauly Cicero says:

      I don’t see them taking anything away but seeking to increase the efficiency in delivering services to the ones targeted in the first place.

  6. The Moral Majority says:

    Interesting.  This particular individual hitting the lecture circuit about about the problems of crime in the community.  Do we get a complimentary "How To" manual? 

  7. Concerned Caymanian Parent of WB says:


    As a single parent of two teenagers, I was speaking with another parent yesterday regarding this same issue, and as parents who have had to deal with both sides of the coin sort to speak with our children (having one that “got away”) we came to a conclusion that there are three types of parents in our Country, there are the 1) Mother & Father both working and trying to provide yet still struggle to make ends meet, therefore a 2nd job is required at times to cover the shortfall in income, 2) Single Parent (Mother or Father) working to provide for child (ren) long hours or 2 jobs, child (ren) raising themselves, in many cases, helpers/nanny leaves usually after normal working hours if one can be afforded just to help with the basic upkeep of the household and that is about all the single parent can afford to pay them for.  3)Neglectful Parent(s) those who are in the Judicial system themselves, they themselves are the result of an ongoing cycle of drug abuse/alcoholism/physical abuse etc, intervention never happened or worked for these individuals.  
  8. engaged says:

    My experience has shown the same pattern; all the programs aimed at Youth get their participants from the families with engaged parents and when the parent/s are engaged the child is a a lot better off.

    Unfortunately there is no system that requires one to qualify for being allowed to have and rear offspring!

    Were not talking about the majority, we are talking about a far too numerous minority that have no clue what it means to be a parent. 

    Every time I come across this situation I want to take the "parents" and shake them up and send them to a training camp. 

    • Anonymous says:

       Some people shouldn’t be having children.  Some men/women have four, five, six children and won’t/can’t support them and they keep having them.  Too bad, we can’t insist on tubal ligation/vasectomies.

      They will never be better parents because they don’t want to be and we have many of such people.  I’m not judging.  Just telling the truth.   I have had to tell a parent that he shouldn’t leave three young children in the car even with the windows down in the middle of the day while he goes shopping.  I saw some at the liquor store too.

  9. Man says:

    This is without a doubt the most impressive and hopeful statement made on crime and youth science the Education reform proposed by the previous administration. If implemented, we will see a level of change and success that to date, we have only dreamed of.

    I stand committed to assisting with this social reform proposal. Please people, let us not politicize this and create political division for the sake of party positions, rather, let us be bipartisan on this issue of crime and youth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here’s my two cents: Any student failing 2 or more subjects needs to be in a mandatory program after school until their grades have improved. Any student with 5 days out a term needs to be put on academic probation. There needs to be a person/s in charge of making phone calls/home visits to monitor the attendance. There needs to be a teacher/student mentoring program implemented in the schools. Finally, any student that is considered “at-risk” (has many catagories) by either parents, teachers, administration etc should be put into another such after school program at school(even just an hour after school two days a week works wonders). These programs are easily developed by school staff members and can touch on homework assistance along with sports, arts or computers etc. Summer school (do you have that option in GC?) is mandatory for any student missing _____ number of days per school year or failing English or Math.

      • Man says:

        I fully support your recommendations! I believe the last administration’s proposed Education reform included every suggestion you made and even had adult learning opportunities as evening/nighttime programs.