January, 23 2018
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Jamaica Considers Using Boot Camps to Help Troubled Teens
THE suggestion of using boot camp facilities to help troubled youths has once again surfaced in the discussions on how best to halt increasing youth delinquency.
Forwarding the idea during the first meeting of the Human Resources and Social Development Committee of Parliament at Gordon House in Kingston Thursday, Member of Parliament for South East St Mary, Tarn Peralto, said the introduction of bootcamp-like facilities could be one way of helping the youngsters.
"In my mind, I believe this boot camp facility might be something we have to look at. Not necessarily in the boot camp structure as we know it, but certainly captured in a very disciplined way to utilise the potential our youngsters have at that age," he said.
According to Peralto, these youth, after being put through this type of facility, could be reintegrated into society successfully.
"If we had facilities we could book them into that created discipline and some organised lifestyle, maybe then we could introduce them back into the society to be possible security force members or persons who could certainly be of service to the country," he said.
The problem of youth delinquency and violence has been plaguing authorities over the past decade and had even prompted the then People's National Party administration in 2002 to establish the first pilot truancy camp for 180 boys who it was felt could not be disciplined by parents, school or the police.
The $6-million experiment - Camp Nutshell in Trelawny - included military instructors. It catered mainly to residents of tough communities who were school dropouts or absentees, and those who had cases pending in juvenile courts.
In the end, some 19 boys were expelled from the very facility for fighting, casting doubt as to whether the right medicine had been prescribed.
On Thursday, Children's Advocate Mary Clarke said such a facility would not benefit all.
"There would have to be careful assessment using fully developed and tested instruments," she said.
"Some of these kids are troubled; some of them it is the result of lack of parenting or improper parenting or the result of unresolved traumatic experiences so they would have to be assessed and diagnosed and the treatment plan is developed based on the outome of the diagnosis," Clarke added.
Stressing that behavioural modification and attitudinal change was sometimes a "very slow process", the children's advocate said it was necessary that the right approach be taken from the beginning.
"For some of them, perhaps the socialisation camp might help, but for others there is no quick fix. I think if we don't diagnose right we are going to prescribe the wrong medicine," she said further.
There were concerns coming from other members of the committee.
Jamaica Labour Party's Member of Parliament for North East St Catherine, Gregory Mair, said he was particularly troubled about "the decay of family and moral values".
"It is alarming and it is serious and I do not think we have taken this issue with the gravity we should," Mair said.
He said he was made aware of the extent to which technological advances had played a role in destroying morals during his time on the ground in the campaigns leading up to the 2007 General Elections.
"We have members amongst our younger community with cellphones transmitting between themselves x-rated movies. You thought it was only cable but when you start to look at technology and how it's influencing our culture, we have to look at all these influences and how they are changing our way of behaving as a people. I think it is something that we as elected leaders urgently need to address," Mair said.
Peralto, in the meanwhile, suggested another solution in developing the country's sporting infrastructure and channel unattached youth into professional sports such as basketball, soccer and swimming.
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Massachusetts Ranch for Troubled Teens Nearing Completion 1/1/08
Sacramento Creates Two Programs for Troubled Teens 12/31/07
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