October 23, 2020

GIRLS CRIME RISE: Youth problems mounting says Minister Adam

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Fairbanks women’s prison

Police are arresting more and more young women for violent crime while almost half of the island’s youth are unemployed, according to Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam.

Similarly, he said, “There has been a shift in attitudes towards drug use, especially cocaine.” As many as 95% of all children in state care, Mr Adam said, “have been exposed to drug and alcohol abuse”, while local police have increasingly arrested young people for “drugs, assault, theft, burglary and other crimes.”

“There is no shortage of evidence that we are losing our younger generation,” he added.

Concluding his gloomy assessment, Mr Adam reported to a Tuesday night audience at Mary Miller Hall, that 41.5% of all youth between 15 years old and 24 years old were unemployed.

“Violence is pervasive,” he said, “and young females, are increasingly committing violent crimes.”

The Minister’s comments come in the wake of last month’s murder spree that saw five young men shot dead in the space of a little over a week.

Females, in particular, but all disadvantaged youth, he said, were “suffering abuse, neglect, exposure to inappropriate role models, low education, low self-esteem and exposure to the juvenile court system at an early age. Many, require therapeutic intervention”.

Revealing the statistical depth of the problem for the first time, Mr Adam drew a gloomy picture for the 200-member audience, saying he had “undertaken a review of the research, We have to understand the youth experience in the Cayman Islands.

“Young people are keenly aware of the issues shaping their lives – drugs, violence, crime, education and unemployment. Youth are dismissed at work, and as a result, resent expatriates, and that is watering down our own Cayman experience,” he said.

“We recognise that we need capacity to help youth at risk from offending,” the minister said, describing plans to address young women by expanding and converting the Bonaventure Boys’ home to a girls’ facility following the 2013 completion of the  $8 million Fairbanks Road Youth Rehabilitation Centre.

“We have key projects and both long-term and short-term programmes to reform our youth rehabilitation services, and already have a pilot programme up and running at Bonaventure,” he said, referring to the launch of the “Missouri Method” of reform scheduled for the Youth Rehabilitation Centre.

“We need additional facilities to address the issues our youth are facing,” Mr Adam told the group.

Bonaventure staff specialising in youth problems had been trained in coaching and Missouri techniques, addressing the 10 boys in residence, some of whom, were being schooled on site, while others attended “mainstream schools, but under supervision.”

Minster of Community Affairs Mike Adam

A new building would soon be completed, enabling an expanded 24-hour, eyes-on therapeutic programme, while staff at the 10-resident Francis Bodden Girls’ Home were undergoing similar therapeutic training”. he said.

Construction of the 34-bed Youth Rehabilitation Centre, adjacent to women’s HMP Fairbanks, would start in January, take between 14 months and 18 months and open in April 2013, an advanced date that Mr Adam was urgently pursuing.

Northward’s Eagle House would be emptied of youth, transferred to Fairbanks Road, where male detainees will stay in “cottages” of between 10 residents and 12 residents, “working in units, doing everything together under 24/7 supervision,” Mr Adam said.

A separate remand facility will segregate between 10 members and 12 members of both sexes, awaiting court dates.

“The emphasis will be on individual counselling and group therapy as appropriate,” he added.

“We have an opportunity to chart a way forward for our growth and for your community and for the future of our Islands,” Mr Adam said. “It will be a learning curve because this is the first of its kind, but this administration agrees that this is right for youth to avert destructive behaviour and reach their full potential.”

 

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