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Cayman Islands Government

Youth Policy Draft Update

Attending the presentation (from right): Minister for Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture the Hon. Mark Scotland; Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn; National Youth Commission Chairperson Jennifer Manderson, MBE, and NYC members.

This week, the government ministry with responsibility for youth previewed the reworked National Youth Policy (NYP) of the Cayman Islands. This draft document will be further scrutinised by officials during coming weeks, before being tabled in the Legislative Assembly in early 2011.

"The picture may seem bleak at this time, but there are no 'quick-fixes'. It will take an integrated effort to address the needs of our youth," said Minister for Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Mark Scotland.

He was accompanied by Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn when the summary document was officially presented on Wednesday, 6 October.

The executive summary of the 100-page draft that was compiled from many sources, notes that previous reports and studies had suggested a number of practical corrective recommendations.

However, while this latest document highlights positive achievements and efforts to support youth development, it also addresses key concerns more recently identified by young people during school surveys. These include crime and violence, school-related issues, substance abuse, the economy and education.

These findings largely reflect those of the original NYP survey a decade ago, although the earlier exercise also listed sex-related issues, boredom, the environment and career opportunities as concerns.

National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairperson Jennifer Manderson, MBE, led discussions during Wednesday's presentation meeting.

"We must lift up our children and youth, and do everything within our means to protect them from abuse and exposure to damaging influences - sometimes even from within their own communities and families," she said.

Current issues discussed at Wednesday's meeting focused on drug abuse, the high number of juvenile arrests and the rise in violence among youth.

Minister Scotland said he shared the Commission's concerns and he commended the members for their diligence. "I see the NYP as an important overarching document and I look forward to sharing it with my Cabinet colleagues and moving forward into the implementation stage."

He added that some identified action plans are already underway, including reform in the areas of education and community affairs.

The original NYP document was written in 1999 and was thereafter accepted by legislators as government's official youth policy. The NYC was at the same time established as an autonomous body. In recent months it has updated its guiding policies with input from key stakeholders, official reports and other sources.

The National Youth Commission was started November 2001. Its overreaching goals are to recognise the unique role which young people can play in the development of the Cayman Islands; to create an enabling environment which enhances their opportunities, and to promote positive social transformation.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Lennon Christian