The Caribbean Mentorship Institute (CMI) says it is alarmed by the number of young persons who have been associated with gang-related activities within the Caribbean region.
The Institute, which focuses on the mentoring of young people, says it believes that mentoring provides a good environment for the youth to develop their personal and professional skills, adding that mentoring has been known to increase the levels of high school graduation and youth involvement within their communities.
“Many young persons are not receiving the type of guidance that is needed for them to flourish within their communities,” said Felicia Browne, president of the CMI.
“We have seen too many examples of young men and women who have dropped out of school to engage in criminal activities. This growing trend should be of grave concern to everyone. Our youth are not finding their way, and are often losing their lives due to errors of judgment. They need guidance and mentors to re-shape their thinking and understanding,” she said.
The Caribbean Mentorship Institute, which has been in operating for nearly three years, has made several types of intervention in countries across the Caribbean region.
However, Browne said that if community members and policy makers turn a blind eye to the plight of young persons, “then we can rest assured that gang activities and criminality amongst disadvantaged youths will only escalate to create further harm within our communities and countries.
“We have continued to observe the escalation of violence in schools, and in public spaces. We have seen videos of violent fights, brawls and sexual misconduct of young persons on social media, yet we are ignoring them because they are not happening in our communities or to our children,” Browne said.
“We are hearing that young men and women are joining or creating gangs because they are left with little choice but to look after their own wellbeing and safety. This is the reality of today’s youth. This is the reason why we cannot assume that they lack understanding or intellect to channel their lives in more positive and holistic ways. Their young lives are at risk, while we refuse to engage with them.”
The CMI president has urged community members and civil organisations to contact the Institute if they require any form of intervention or assistance to address problems among our youth. The Institute, which is based in Barbados, has partnering organisations throughout the Caribbean and the world.