Youths are overwhelmingly the main victims and perpetrators of crime in the region, said Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development Clifton De Coteau, at the re-opening ceremony of the Laventille Youth Facility, on Laventille Road, Port of Spain.
In Trinidad and Tobago, more than half of the victims of fatal firearm assaults are males aged 15-34, he added.
De Coteau noted that these figures came from a report compiled by the Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security.
He highlighted the fact that when it comes to the issue of crime and young people, the general view is a lack of self-esteem that comes out of scarce opportunities, either within or outside of the school.
“Young people, it is sad to say, are the biggest age demographic among both the victims and perpetrators of crime in this country,” De Coteau said.
“We hope that with the opening of this facility and others like it, we can play a part in alleviating this problem of crime and low self-esteem. Too many young people feel as if there are not many outlets for youths to express themselves, to meet other people or to cultivate skills and passions,” he added.
De Coteau noted that based on conversations with those in the community, a diverse selection of programmes will be offered, including folk dance, education in music production and music literacy, dance, computer literacy, event decoration, and aerobics to name a few.
“The ministry is also partnering with the University of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme, to feature trained facilitators for our classes. In this way, youth can benefit from knowledgeable and skilled tutors who can provide not only information sharing, but mentorship and guidance.”
The minister also said that establishment of the National Youth Commission, which will be the umbrella body for all youth bodies nationally, will happen soon.
He said thorough this commission, the youth service delivery will be coordinated in fulfilment of the five Cs of youth development—competence, confidence, connection, character and caring. Additionally, the commission will also assist in accomplishing some of the recommendations of other relevant policies and reports, inclusive of the Ryan Report, ‘No Time to Quit: Engaging Youth at Risk: Executive Report of the Committee on Young Males and Crime in Trinidad and Tobago, said De Coteau.
The Laventille Youth Facility is one of three such facilities opened yesterday. The other two were the St James Youth Facility and Malick Youth Facility.
Over the next few days, the ministry will also visit California Youth Centre, Yallery Street, California; Pt Lisas (December 17); and Los Bajos Youth Facility, Bennett Village, Los Bajos on December 19.