NOC mulls ‘lock-down’ of criminally oriented children

File Photo of NOC inmates.

By Kurt Campbell

Minister of Youth, Dr. Frank Anthony.
Minister of Youth, Dr. Frank Anthony.

[] – Youth and Culture Minister Dr. Frank Anthony announced on Friday (January 3) that consideration is being given to restructuring the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) to have the more criminally oriented children housed in confined areas and separate them from children who are merely affected by family and other social challenges.

He said recommendations in this regard were made in a recent report by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and efforts are afoot to see possible implementation.

The Minister told reporters at a press conference on Friday, January 3that the current structure, which sees the mixing of all children in one open area, has been the cause of several challenges at the institution.

He further explained that the current set-up has aided in the escaping of several children and insubordinate activities. In this regard, Dr. Anthony said efforts are being made to improve security there.

According to him, there are several students at the institution that are not necessarily delinquents and said frankly that they do not deserve to be there, adding that more thorough pre-evaluation is needed.

As it relates to the fire that destroyed the dormitory in 2013 which is believed to be the work of arson, Dr. Anthony noted that a draft report has been completed by the board of inquiry that was established to investigate the incident.

He added that once the final reported is completed, the contents will be made public and work on implementing the recommendations therein will begin shortly.

The Minister also expressed profound thanks to the Canadian Government for their assistance in providing a Social Worker to the institution to work with the children over the past year.

But despite these challenges, the institution had its fair share of successes for 2013, according to Dr. Anthony. He said children from NOC who were sent to schools in the area wrote exams at which they succeeded credibly.

He pointed out too that there are programs in place for children who are desirous of continuing their studies or ply a trade after leaving the NOC.



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