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Feb 6, 2002

Officials seek new strategies for youth

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One of the key topics of discussion at this week’s CARICOM Summit was the need for bold and concrete regional initiatives to deal with crime and its underlying causes. Today, on the national level, a cross-section of Belizeans met to chart the future for the group most responsible for the crime problem and its solution: our youth.

Youth #1

“And the ones who no mek it dah prison yet, they have to even before they reach there too.”

Youth #2

“It’s time for the parents to act and sit down their children and talk. This is reality, it’s just not being the safest way to abstain from sex, but reality is something else.”

Youth #3

“They are either lost to drugs, or to crime, or become pregnant as teenagers or just stay by the wayside.”

Youth #4

“Lack of leadership and guidance. I remember back in the days when you see kids in the streets doing something wrong, the neighbours would say something to the kids to stop it. Now, neighbours don’t even say nothing.”

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting

Young people spoke eloquently about what they feel are some of the important issues they have to grapple with in a changing society. But today’s event was more than just young people talking. Civil society groups joined forces with government departments for a two-day strategic planning workshop to chart a new course for youth. Diane Hall is the acting Youth Director.

Diane Hall, Acting Youth Director

“We’re looking at the situation of youth, we’re trying to get a real good picture of what it is that is happening out there. We’re trying to dream and to see exactly what is it that we want, what we would want our young people to look like in the near future, what should be the mission of the Youth Department, where are we, how do we get there, where do we want to go? And most importantly, looking at different strategies, ways to address the problems and the issues that will help us to realise our goals.”

One strategy employed today was an introductory session, which brought out the varying concerns of participants.

Ann-Marie Williams

“Does it concern you that successive government administrations have never been able to make youth a full ministry, only just a department and in that way the importance is always put on the back burner?”

Diane Hall

“Yes, that’s another major concern and as long as I’m in the seat as Acting Director of Youth, that would be one of the things that I would want to push. I want a Ministry of Youth, where youths will be the front, not coming up to education and sports or women, or human development. Youth is an issue and we need to look at it. If we can get a ministry, I would at least like it to be the Ministry of Finance, because I think that’s where it really should be.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“Where you can tap into some good funds?”

Diane Hall

“Exactly, where we can tap into the funding and be right after the Minister of Finance and say, look we need to look good out there, we need to do something for our young people.”

Hall is optimistic that a workable five-year plan will result from these two days of meetings. A plan, which promises to benefit the thirty percent of our population, age fourteen to twenty-nine. Ann-Marie Williams for News 5.

The two-day workshop runs through Thursday.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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