(CMC) — A two-day conference aimed at examining and redefining violence prevention solutions as it relates to youth violence and prevention in the Caribbean began here on Tuesday with the Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Irwin LaRocque, saying it is a regional problem that demands a regional solution.
LaRocque told the conference that has brought together leaders from youth movements, governments, civil society, development organisations and academia that crime and security is an issue that is having an impact on all the 15-members of the regional integration grouping.
“It is a regional problem that demands a regional solution. It not only requires the full co-operation of all our countries but also all the stakeholders within the member states. The multi-state, multi-sectoral response to this challenge is vital for us to succeed in defeating it,” LaRocque told the opening ceremony.
He said a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2012 Caribbean Human Development Report on Citizen Security, noted that crime and violence impose high social, economic and cultural costs.
Crime and violence are development issues and the report recommended that a model of security for the region should be based on a human development approach with citizen security being paramount, he added.
The two day conference, which is being hosted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, UNICEF, the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat, the St Lucia-based Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission, and the Caribbean Learning for Youth Networking and Change Sessions (LYNCS) Network, is intended to design transformational youth-centred action to combat crime and violence and address constraints that youth activists face in improving safety outcomes in their communities.
LaRocque told the conference that the youth are the demographic that is most affected by crime and violence and that some of the main findings of recent studies are that the majority of victims, as well as perpetrators of crimes recorded by the police, are young males 18 to 35 years old.
He quoted the UNDP report as indicating that the Caribbean has some of the highest figures of youth convicted of crime with at least 80 per cent of prosecuted crimes being committed by young people between the ages 19 to 29 years old.
“There are a number of socio-economic determinants of crime, not least of which is the high youth unemployment rate in the region of 25 per cent in 2017. That is three times the adult average and highest among young women ages 18 to 30 at 33 per cent,” he said, adding that to combat this scourge, Caribbean leaders approved the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy in 2013, which incorporates the CARICOM Social Development and Crime Prevention Action Plan.