The LASCO Chin Foundation (LCF) and their partners commit to addressing youth gang violence by piloting a series of School-based Gang Alternative Programs (GAPs) at one high school in Jamaica from September 2020 to August 2022. Using behavior assessments, consultation with teachers and guidance counselors, and home visits, the LCF will identify at least 20 students displaying gang-related behaviors and execute a series of GAPs to increase pro-social behaviors and reduce the occurrence of gang-related behaviors.
LCF will deliver targeted individualized support, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), developing Personal Development Plans (PDPs), and life skills support. The CBT will be administered by professional psychologists. Psychologists will collaborate with social workers to prepare PDPs for each student which will include skills-based training and creativity enhancement through a youth innovation lab led by Institute of Law & Economics (ILE).
This program will also include parenting and caregiver support. Specifically, as least 1-2 parents/caregivers will be coached over six months by the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC) on best practices for raising children without using violent disciplinary measures. A Big Sister/Brother Mentorship program, led by Minds of Jamaica (MoJ), will also be implemented to address weak parenting and will provide entrepreneurship training to enhance overall income earning.
Additionally, the program will include schooling support. LCF and partners will foster interclub relationships to improve police-youth relationship and build trust with the police. It will also include online professional development targeting teachers and guidance counsellors to address issues like trauma and anger management, provided by Jamaica Diaspora Taskforce Action Network (JDTAN).
Lastly, LCF will aim to strengthen community engagement by building awareness, providing education, and leveraging social media to organize and share youth-focused anti-gang/crime messages. This portion of the program will be implemented by Peace Management Initiative (PMI), Operations Save Jamaica (OSJ), and others.
Through this commitment, LCF aims to reduce the occurrence of gang-related behaviors by at least 30% in the first year and by at least 75% the second year.
Sept to Dec 2020: Data gathering and psycho-social assessments of targeted students displaying gang-related behaviors to establish baseline data; develop individual plans to be used as a monitoring tool; carry out home visits; engage teachers and other school personnel in supporting the GAPs and engage parents in parenting intervention.
Jan to May 2021: Provide recommended support services as detailed in Personal Development Plans (PDPs); and continue monitoring and assessment.
June to Aug 2021: Execute all four components of intensive GAP programs; collect, review and analyze data; draft Year 1 report documenting the reduction of the occurrence of gang-related behaviors by at least 30%.
Sept to Dec 2021: Adjust execution of GAPs according to the findings of the Year 1 assessment
Jan to May 2022: Execute adjusted plan and continue monitoring and assessment.
June to Aug 2022: Execute all four components of intensive GAP programs; collect and analyze data; draft Year 2 report documenting the reduction of the occurrence of gang-related behaviors by at least 75%.
Since 2004, more than 1,000 Jamaicans have been murdered annually. In 2017, 1,647 persons were murdered, pushing the homicide rate to 56 per 100,000, the 3rd highest level and rate of murders since Jamaica’s independence in 1968. In response, the government established zones of special operations (ZOSOs) and states of emergency (SOEs). Although this contributed to a 22% decline in homicide in 2018, with a homicide rate to 47 per 100,000, this rate was three times higher than the average for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The problem of violence and crime is concentrated among young people within disadvantaged communities. The majority of perpetrators and victims of crime are young men between the ages of 18 to 35. Many are in gangs that have contributed to about 46% of murders with weapons over the past three years. The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Community Safety & Security Branch (CSSB) reports that approximately 50 school-based gangs can be found in high schools across Jamaica.
Global School-based Student Health Surveys and other school-based surveys suggest that up to 50 percent of adolescents (aged 13 to 15) are physically attacked and up to about 70 percent are involved in physical fighting or bullying in the past year. Many end up dead. The evidence suggests that the share of deaths due to intentional injury increases as children enter adolescence. Therefore, crime and violence prevention interventions, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), at the adolescence stage of a child’s development are necessary to curb violent, gang-related behaviors.
Lastly, evidence suggests that effective community engagement encourages community stakeholders to take responsibility for local solutions in addressing gang and youth violence.
LCF is seeking in-kind resources to support each program component and cover operational costs including office supplies, multi-media equipment, internet, transportation, and office space. Additionally, LCF seeks professional psycho-social support to assist in the implementation of the GAPs. Lastly, LCF seeks media support to raise awareness in the community and scale the program to impact more students.
LCF welcomes implementing partners to carry out GAP programs interested in supporting the training/coaching, mentorship, entrepreneurial support, and more. Data and documentation of program results can help LCF provide best practices for similar intervention programs being implemented across the Caribbean.