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Tuesday, May 02, 2006 

Slow responses to 'Youth at Risk'
Tuesday May 02 2006
by Terresa McCall

Several months into the implementation of the Youth at Risk and the Men in School programmes and organisers are indicating that they are still not seeing the response they would have liked.

The Youth at Risk programme is geared towards identifying youth who are considered “at risk” and provides positive avenues which these individuals can take.

The Men in School programme seeks to gain the assistance of the public, particularly the men, to take time out of their busy schedules to visit the high schools and provide positive role models for the youth.

Minister of National Security Dwyer Astaphan, while in consultation with the SUN, explained that the response to the programmes is, “not as good as we like” but further noted that he believes that the programmes will be successful.

“The response to the programmes is not as good as we like but we are encouraged because each time someone steps in, that’s someone new. So it’s fairly new to the society and it will take some time to become embedded as part of our general practice and I am convinced that it will succeed.”

The minister explained that since the implementation of the programmes, there has been some success.

“You can’t measure these things in very narrow mathematical terms. One has to ask the questions: ‘What are the problems? How complex are they? What resources are being applied to the problems?’

"I can tell you in general terms that there is greater awareness of the problem and greater awareness is coming out of more discussion and there are actually cases where people have been brought into the programme, so this is success but clearly, this an ongoing work…that the whole country has to undertake.”

Astaphan explained that a number of innovations will be applied to the programmes in order to increase their effectiveness.

“School is just resuming now and so we are trying to recruit more males in the community into the programme to try to get them to participate.

"Mrs. Hazel Ross Robinson is playing a very active role in that and we are working with the department of social development and community affairs to try to establish actual geographical locations, focal points to carry out some more of the work for Youth at Risk.

"Of course, that includes assisting them with education and job needs and so forth. So all of these are works in progress.”

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