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Ignoring Youth Development, Paying A Heavy Price

The media houses in Belize City are reporting that 2015 is already one of the most murderous year, including the fact that the country has been named the fourth most dangerous country in the world by the accounts of one particular poll. News 5 of Belize City reported that from their statistics, the country has seen a total of 74 murders since the start of the year with April and May having the highest numbers with 19 and 16 homicides, respectively. There were only five murders in January and eight in June. More alarming is the age of the victims that has dropped significantly and more youths are being involved in crime. The youngest victim was 22-year-old Charlie Espat from San Pedro.

With high concerns over the alarming statistics, the Belize Younth Movement (BYM) called on government to commit to work with youths and improvement of its Youth Policy. The organization took out the following press release this week:

– Press Release, Belize Youth Movement (BYM), July 15, 2015 – BYM Calls for Improvement of Youth Policy – It has been over two years since the Ministers of Youth Hon. Patrick Faber and Hon. Herman Longsworth and a representative of UNICEF launched the National Youth Development Policy. Since then, the policy document which Minister of State Herman Longsworth said was indicative of the “commitment by the Government to work with youths” has been ignored and left on a shelf to gather dust. The commitment made before an audience of hundreds of young people on February 27, 2013 has also turned out to be nothing but empty, sweet talk.

Today’s high levels of gun violence and murders (78 homicides in 2015), increasing joblessness among young people including graduates, and the growing social breakdown in our neighborhood leading young people to gangs and guns, in particular in the Southside of Belize City, are the results of a spiraling deterioration of Government’s commitment to work with and for young people.

The answers to high crime and social breakdown among our youth DO NOT lie in the work of the Police Department alone. The answers are also neither short-term planning nor spending on initiatives that only meet short-sighted partisan political objectives.

What is needed is a comprehensive youth development plan and Leaders in Government who have the political will to execute and treat Young People as a priority.

The Belize Youth Movement calls on the Government to reverse its costly position of neglecting the real issues affecting young people and to, forthwith, begin to invest the necessary resources in the implementation of the National Youth Development Policy.

On behalf of our members, and all young people throughout the country, we will not shy away from our responsibility to remind the Government of the commitments made to young people. Ignoring this call will only reinforce the growing need to MAKE them listen to us. – End of Release –

Ignoring Youth Development, Paying A Heavy Price

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