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Deviance not the focus

Government is breaking away from the long standing fixation with social deviance among Barbadian young people as it moves to implement a new National Youth Policy.

Minister of Youth Stephen Lashley said the 68-page document discussed in the House of Assembly today was revolutionary “because for the first time it seeks to reverse a historical trend of this preoccupation and this focus on social deviance”.

It was part of the plan to end the previous “ad hoc approach to youth development”, Lashley noted.

“Yes we do have policies and programmes designed to address issues of social deviance, to address those young people who are in need of appropriate guidance and so on, but that is what characterised many of the youth policies and initiatives of the past,” he said.

“Modern national youth policies have veered away from that, moved away from this over-concentration on social deviance and has focussed its attention squarely on the holistic development of all young people, and that is the focus of this National Youth Policy.

“It is a deliberate policy, which finds itself advocating a number of approaches to the youth development agenda, which are critical and which impact very much so our whole social fabric.”

The Christ Church West Central MP said such a stance “will be critical to how the private sector regards young persons and how it regards youth development as well”.

“It is a policy designed to achieve a national objective of ensuring that national approaches to youth development are focussed, they are appropriately calibrated and that they can rapidly achieve the objectives that were set,” he stated.

“It is clear … that the large majority of Barbadian young people are level headed individuals, they know what they are about, they are focussed and in fact it came out profoundly during the deliberations of the National Youth Forum and the deliberations of the coordinating committee.”

Lashley added that while the new policy identified rights, “it also identifies obligations and the fundamental principle of that is that while we understand, embrace the fact that young people have rights and those rights are indelibly set out”.

“The National Youth Policy is a precise, concise, and practical social, political and economic development plan for the youth… There is no need for anybody now to wonder about a social political and economic compass that guide the affairs of youth development in Barbados. The youth of Barbados have already written it,” the minister stated.

“This policy was inspired by the vision and the aspiration of our youth and it was written with the full engagement and input of our youth.

“What we are going towards now is having a vision, having a set of clearly demarcated objectives, which inform strategies, not strategies in the air left to hibernate for many years, but as you see in this document, strategies that are determined to be accomplished within a specified time frame, and that’s critical.” (SC)

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