Thursday 26 November, 2020

Spike in delinquency amongst girls recorded after COVID shutdown

The Juvenile Liaison Scheme recorded an uptick in delinquency amongst preteen and teenage girls in Barbados immediately after citizens were free to move around post-COVID-19.

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Speaking to Loop News, Acting Sergeant attached to the Juvenile Liaison Scheme Kim Harris said:

"There was a spike after there was clearance for movement of persons after COVID. We realised that there were quite a few young ladies who were either wandering or there was some interruption with the family home where there was communication through violence, whether it just be verbal or physical between the parents or siblings, and we were concerned."

Harris said that they were able to note the increase "from looking through our information received, I realised that there were more girls who were being reported missing and then the calls that were coming in to us."

But she added that "these numerous girls were leaving home and coming back home late as though they really just wanted an outlet. School was closed. They were not really getting out the house."

Harris said that some of the girls told them at the Scheme: "'We just really needed an outlet . . . some of the children even said, 'You know what? We were bored.'"' 

Therefore, she went on to knock and discredit the slander spread by those Barbadians wh oare always fast to say that these young girls who go missing are "at some man's house."

Harris urged: "It doesn't mean that there's actually sexual deviance, but they just wanted to get out."

In light of the spike, the Scheme partnered with counsellors, the Probation Office, Ministry of Education, THRIVE and the Barbados Family Planning Association (BFPA) and Harris to empower these young girls. 

She said: "So within that process we wanted to arm them with information." She was speaking on the second day of the two-day workshop under the title 'Ladies Aloud; Taking Charge of our Future.'

Explaining, "We were concerned about the young ladies who were involved in deviant behaviour whether it be wandering, sexual deviance, drug abuse or just general [bad] behaviour," she said that the hope is for the 12 participants in this cohort to be better able to handle themselves if a lockdown were to happen again.

". . .This was unusual for some parents as well because they were never placed in a position where they had to be with their children 24 hours, almost like a prisoner locked down, and it was hard on them as well as the parents. And we had to take into consideration that a lot of people had lost their jobs so that was additional pressure and children they're accustomed having access to particular services and activities and all of that was withdrawn from them. They did not have the coping mechanism to prepare them for that experience and adults as well."

The girls involved in the workshop were between the ages of 12 and 17, enrolled in the Scheme and have displayed some form of either deviant behaviour or were referred to the Scheme by way of their general behaviour or criminal infarction. 

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