Antigua looks at criminalising gangs to rid schools of violence

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

The Ministry of Social Transformation in Antigua and Barbuda has submitted six proposals to the government for its consideration as they look to rid gang activity and violence from the nation’s schools.

Government ministers examined the proposals during Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

A note from the cabinet said the six proposals put forward:

Developing legislation that will make joining and functioning with a gang illegal.
Monitoring substance abuse by students, including alcohol, marijuana, and non-prescription drugs.
Strengthening community and civil society groups through training.
Provide support for children in conflict with the law, which would include the Boys Training School and a similar home for troubled girls.
Increasing the number of probation officers and truancy officers
Creating a national public relations programme to encourage acceptable behaviour among youth.

The Cabinet agreed to consult with a former soldier of the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force, who has experience running a boys training program, to create a similar program for the state.

Information Minister Melford Nicholas noted that the legislative arsenal that will be needed to tackle juvenile crime are unlikely to be debated in Parliament before the general election, which is constitutionally due in March.

In the meantime, Nicholas said the government would utilise tools available to it to make schools safe for all students.

“There are a number of areas that we have to utilise in terms of the existing social services in the Ministry of Social Transformation, based in terms of what the Ministry of Education is doing and based in terms of what law enforcement is doing,” he stated.