Funding scarce for crime prevention

| 14/09/2015 | 23 Comments
Cayman News Service

Bonnie Anglin

(CNS): Local activists and volunteers, including the education ministry’s programme co-ordinator for at-risk youth, are hoping to secure funding from government to expand the work they do on crime prevention. While government spends tens of millions of dollars every year on police, prison and other security and enforcement measures, it spends almost nothing on crime prevention. Bonnie Anglin and Michael Myles, the chairs of Youth Act, a local charity that focuses on combatting the causes of crime among young people, said they desperately need secure funding for tried and tested programmes to stop kids falling into crime.

Illustrating the extent of the problem, Myles said he has identified more than 600 children in the government school system that are at risk of ending up in the criminal justice system, but very little is being done to prevent that from happening. Myles said that many children in Cayman are facing significant social problems that are traumatising them and preventing them from learning. He said that money has to be invested in crime prevention, meaningful social support and tried and tested interventions that actually work.

Anglin is hoping to pitch government for permanent funding for Youth Act to match the funds the non-government organisation raises in the private sector to expand a number of programmes, in particular the specially designed crime prevention one-day programme ‘Prison me? No way BoBo’.

Currently, the evidence-based and effective prevention programme takes place in high schools for just one day a year for students in Year 8. Anglin said Youth Act wants to introduced the age-appropriate version of the programme into primary schools and also add at least one follow-up day for older students in Year 10 or 11.

Although Youth Act has identified many other programmes that are tried and tested, the charity has battled constantly to get the cash it needs. Anglin said they are hoping to secure around $30,000 from government annually to give them a secure base of support that they can depend on, but despite at least three attempts so far, she has not been able to get that commitment.

“One day, once a year is just not enough. We need to be able to follow up as this programme has been proven in other jurisdictions to be very effective. The feedback here, too, is exceptionally good and we need to follow up on the impact it has on students later on,” Anglin added.

A mere drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money already spent dealing with the consequences of crime, she and Myles believe that prevention is the area that is constantly cut.

From music therapy projects in the jail to the skateboard programme that was run in partnership with the police, which required just $5,000 from the RCIPS budget to match the education ministry’s $5,000 input, Myles said these are the projects that are always the first to be dropped when cash gets tight but are exactly the sort of projects that work. He said the $5,000 from the RCIPS invested in the skateboard was exceptionally good value because it had the combined effect of building trust between the kids and police as well as keeping them out of trouble.

Over the last 15 years government has commissioned almost a dozen expensive reports dealing with crime. However, despite the findings in the reports about the need to address prevention at a very early stage, the necessary resources have never been committed to prevention and are constantly directed to security or enforcement, creating the vicious circle that Cayman now finds itself in, Myles told CNS. No matter how many times experts have told government about the need to focus on the causes of crime, no viable programmes have been consistently funded.

While teachers are currently being blamed for the poor results in government schools and the behaviour problems of local students, Myles said that things happening in the home environment for some children are shocking. Given the scale of the problems, far more investment is needed to address the mental health, stress and trauma endured silently, in some cases by some very young children, he said, adding that violence, substance abuse, sexual behaviour and neglect are more common than the authorities are prepared to acknowledge.

Myles said he agrees with the introduction of breakfast clubs as well as social workers and child psychiatrists in the schools to try and deal on a daily basis with the experiences children may have had the night before that will impact their ability to learn. He said there is considerable evidence to support the unpleasant fact that all of these children will end up in jail unless far more is invested in addressing the issues that cause crime.

But Cayman, like many other countries, is investing at the other end — on courts, police and prison — and falling short on meeting those resources as well, which is why persuading the authorities to redirect funding to prevention, which is harder to measure, can be extremely challenging.

But Anglin warned that investing millions in a new court house or police station will not prevent or reduce crime. She urged government to rethink the cuts made over the years to prevention programmes.

Talking about tens of thousands of dollars rather than millions, Youth Act says it can do an awful lot with just a little but it needs to have a source of cash that it can depend on to address young people at real risk of offending before it’s too late.

Youth Act is also looking for volunteers to help them clear up a potential site for a community centre in Rockhole Road that they hope will double up as a training facility.

For more information contact bonnieanglin@hotmail.com

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Category: Crime, Crime Prevention, Education, Local News

Comments (23)

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  1. Quincy Brown says:

    Youth Act is a great programme. I have seen it in action in our schools. Let us all do our part to keep it going.
    QUINCY BROWN.

  2. Knees Together says:

    Contraceptive should be used in every conceivable circumstance!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why do we always have to start with needing more money? Look at where the money is being spend and ensure it is now being properly used and secondly spend more time walking around these public schools.

    Ms Bonnie I know you understand statistics, please try and collect data (survey the students) on the level of unfair discrimination being used by teachers against ‘native’ Caymanians, especially those who have no Jamaican connections, parents in PTA or ‘friends’ with teachers….. that would be the majority and most vulnerable. Check that out! Then you’ll see who truly is building schools of gang/loser mentality.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The biggest universities in the world have student/employee bodies bigger than the population of our island community and cost a lot less than $600,000,000 per annum to run.

    Money is not the problem. It is the waste of money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed ,….like waste of money on six figure salaries for the managers oh CNCF plus cocktail party expenses when there is real good to be done by Ms.Anglin and Mr.Myles.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The problem is systemic. We need to fix the system in order to achieve the desired results.
    Parents, Teachers, RCIP, Social Service Department all need to be working closely together with the same objectives. ThIis is an excellent place to start.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually if parents were as accountable as they are supposed to be there would be no need for them to work closely with police or social services.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Prevention, prevention,prevention is the only way forward.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Money needs to be spent on effective parenting programes. The ones we have are not working. You cannot change behavior by powerpoint. You need to get into the homes and change heart and minds of the parents who cannot model good parenting because they have never seen it. At least Michael Myles is someone who actually really cares about what happens to our children unlike many of the politicians.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh the excuses. Please don’t give deadbeat parents another excuse by which to sacrifice the health and education of their children.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Government should read the Donohue-Levitt hypothesis which proved that legalized abortion reduced crime in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Babies having babies is one of Cayman’s biggest issues. Children are growing up without responsible, stable and financially independent parents while being around immense wealth which ends up harboring a sense of entitlement and resentment leading to bad decisions, rampant crime and the vicious circle commences once again.

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanians are reducing the number of children per household but when you consider how many are bringing 3-6 minimum children here, that is another problem or men/women from overseas getting their anchor babies then getting married to locals so that they can bring their children from overseas is also a major factor.

  9. Cruise Control says:

    Um there is a specific section in the RCIPS budget devoted to “crime prevention”.

    What do they do with the millions of dollars that are so earmarked?

    • Anonymous says:

      Crime prevention by the RCIPS is not about the social and emotional issues facing our children and young people, nor should it be.They can help but we need targeted intervention for these very challenging young people and their parents.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The first thing that needs to happen is that men MUST take full financial responsibility for the children they sire and not constantly get off the hook claiming they have no job etc. Repossess all of their belongings……TVs, computers, cars, you name it. Perhaps that will entice some to use a condom!

    Secondly, parents must be held responsible for their children if they are left unsupervised and not turn up to school, if they damage property, if they commit offenses.

    The issues must be addressed at their root, and not just by creating one charity after another to resolve the issues.

    • Anonymous says:

      No the first thing that needs to happen is that young men take responsibility for birth control by using condoms. According to the census teen pregnancy is not as high as you would believe. Its a problem but so is absent fathers, social deprivation and non existent parenting.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, the first thing that needs to happen is selective sterilization. That or big walls built. Some to keep people out and some to keep people in.

        • Anonymous says:

          Who would you select for sterilization? How would you set the criteria? You and your two likes so far are scary people.

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