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Curb ‘negative trends’ in youth

marciadottin, [email protected]

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Stakeholders in Barbados’ juvenile justice system were exposed to critical issues in juvenile justice in Barbados at an open session of the Juvenile Court last week.Magistrate Faith Marshall-Harris presided over the special sitting at UNICEF’s Marine Gardens headquarters, to present findings of a study which highlighted areas of concern arising out of juvenile offences.The study entitled Emerging Critical Issues In Juvenile Justice; A Case Study Of The District A Juvenile Court gave the research findings from 224 cases in Juvenile Court compiled by Marshall-Harris over a four-year period. The study was co-authored by Canadian research assistant Anastasia Bonderenko. It identified disturbing trends in juvenile offences of which Marshall-Harris warned the country needed to be aware and to “guard against”.Law-abiding“The vast majority of our children are law-abiding, positive, well behaved . . . we are really studying the tiny minority. However, the reason we have to study that minority is that they have an impact on the larger community by way of the school especially.“If we do not look to curb certain negatives that are developing, particularly in the school community which is where I feel it more sharply, then we are not going to do anything good for future generations of children,” Marshall-Harris told the special court sitting.The full-day Juvenile Open Court session was attended by representatives of the church, the Ministry of Education, school principals, guidance counsellors, probation officers and other agencies that form part of the Circle of Care which assists the Juvenile Court in making decisions about the most beneficial treatment of juvenile offenders appearing before the court.The whole-day session featured interventions by several of these professionals.Marshall-Harris stressed that her emphasis was on rehabilitation for the juveniles who found themselves before her. (GC)