October 25, 2020

Are we doing enough for our youth?

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We are spending thousands, if not millions, in policing, the judicial and prisons. We spend thousands to try and keep ourselves safe from intruders entering our homes. The business community spends even more to prevent shoplifting and thievery.

How much do we spend on our youths? On the 25th July, Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General remarked at the General Assembly, “Failing to invest in our youth is a false economy.” He was speaking at the conclusion of the International Year of Youth. He went on to say, “The international community must work to expand the horizons of opportunity for young women and men and answer their legitimate demands for dignity and decent work. The global economic crisis and austerity measures in many countries are constraining these opportunities. When youth lack opportunity they are more easily led to crime and violence, to drugs and risky sex, and the slippery slope to the bottom of the social scale.

“The fires have travelled far since then. The Facebook generation is showing a growing resolve to change our world and a capacity to make things happen. They are bringing their energy and courage to some of the most difficult issues we face. Young people are standing up for the rights of those who suffer discrimination based on gender, race and sexual orientation. They are confronting sensitive issues — talking to their peers and working to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS. And they are leading the charge to adopt a green model for development.

“Young people often understand better than older generations that we can and must transcend our religious and cultural differences in order to reach our shared goals. Our job, distinguished representatives of the General Assembly, is to work for them — and with them — to make sure they can inherit the world they want; the world promised by the United Nations Charter; a world built on dialogue and mutual understanding.”

So what are we doing here? Recently, Hon. Mark Scotland, the Youth Minister, said, “We’re not reinventing the wheel; for there are many good programmes already underway.” The Minister encouraged continued collaborative efforts between the National Youth Council and government ministries and portfolios, and encouraged private sector companies to become more involved in youth development – citing the ongoing Superior Auto training programme as a good example.

How much do we actually spend on our youth projects? What proportion of our annual budget goes to youth programmes? How much does the private sector give? Last of all, do we listen to our youth?

Whatever the answers, we are obviously not doing enough. Isn’t prevention better than cure? I bet it’s less costly

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