National Student Congress Stirs Debate on Reducing Crime And Violence

Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Student council leaders in primary schools across St. Kitts weighed in on matters related to crime and violence on the first day of the inaugural National Student Congress held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort on Wednesday (February 28, 2024).

Honourable Garth Wilkin, and Minister of State for Youth Empowerment, the Honourable Isalean Phillip

Fifty-six students representing 19 primary schools attended the interactive sessions which featured presentations from Probation Officer Lauston Percival, who has more than 20 years of experience in community policing. Attorney-General, the Honourable Garth Wilkin, and Minister of State for Youth Empowerment, the Honourable Isalean Phillip, covered the afternoon sessions.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth Empowerment, the Honourable Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, said that hosting the Congress is part of a dream that he conceived many years ago when he served as the Director of Youth.

“This is an indication that the Ministry of Youth Empowerment is very serious about our young people, and their voices [do] matter,” Dr. Hanley stated, encouraging the young people to ask questions and share their comments and opinions.

The forum formed part of the government’s strategy to address Crime and Violence as a Public Health Issue. The student leaders gave many suggestions including creating help centres to address bullying in schools, increasing educational and vocational opportunities for at-risk youth, expanding community policing interventions, strengthening close circuit television monitoring, and more.

Ten-year-old Kizarah Evans of the Tyrell Williams Primary School, described her experience at the National Student Congress as “amazing”, particularly as it is the first of its kind.

She noted that she was impressed with “how they [the presenters] spoke about violence and crime, and how we went back and forth and had a conversation. And they listened to what we had to say.”

Grade six student Shreya Rawat of the Immaculate Conception Catholic School shared similar sentiments. She welcomed the information about the government’s crime-fighting efforts and said engagements like these will help her generation to meet the challenges of today.

Joshua Taylor, a 12-year-old student of the Edgar T. Morris Primary School appreciated the tips that were shared to help persons control their anger and to diffuse situations between conflicting sides.

“I as a student can conduct more sporting activities, find ways to make children cope with each other more and help people with anger [management],” he expressed. The grade six student applauded the government for hosting this initiative saying “Thank you for indulging us to help us cope with anger. Thank you for teaching us about the violence rate in our country because as youths in this country, we should know this,” he added, noting that it is a call to action.

Tiquanje’ Tweede of the Violet Petty Primary School shared that it was very important to expose young people to the consequences of crime and violence. As the student council president at his school, the sixth-grade student indicated that he would host a meeting with council members and teachers to help share what was learnt at the National Student Congress.

The forum continues tomorrow (Thursday, February 29) with student leaders from secondary schools and tertiary institutions across St. Kitts and Nevis.

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