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Youth ACT to hold youth crime prevention workshops

Dr Leena K. Augimeri, Director, Scientific and Program Development & Centre for Children Committing Offences at Child Development Institute (CDI)
Dr Leena K. Augimeri, Director, Scientific and Program Development & Centre for Children Committing Offences at Child Development Institute (CDI)

Members of the Youth Anti-Crime Trust (ACT) will be hosting a series of workshops where they hope to get some much needed support for a programme they want to introduce in the Cayman Islands.

The programme has proven to be very successful in teaching children with behavioural problems, and their parents, how to make better choices ‘in the moment’.

The organisation will be meeting with government ministers, MLAs and other public sector officials; law enforcement; school principals and education support staff; community groups; youth activists; mental health professionals; and private sector entities to introduce them to SNAP®, which stands for Stop Now And Plan.

The primary goal of SNAP is to help children to stop and think before they act, and keep them in school and out of trouble. Using an evidence-based behavioural model, the programme provides a framework for teaching children and their parents effective emotional regulation, self-control and problem-solving skills.

SNAP was developed in 1985 by Child Development Institute, an accredited children’s mental health organisation in Toronto as an intervention programme for boys under 12 in conflict with the law. Since then, it has grown and evolved into an internationally recognised model offering gender-specific programmes for children ages 6-11 and youth ages 13-17 as well as specific initiatives for the community and schools.

Desiree Phillips, SNAP® Senior Trainer-Community Development Facilitator for the SNAP Implementation team at Child Development Institute (CDI)
Desiree Phillips, SNAP® Senior Trainer-Community Development Facilitator for the SNAP Implementation team at Child Development Institute (CDI)

Youth ACT’s partnership with SNAP® has come about as a result of the recommendation of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada (IPAC) Report, published in 2012, which stated in its “Review of the Assessment and Treatment of Criminal Offenders” that the Ministry of Education should explore the option of introducing SNAP as the more intensive level of intervention.

SNAP® offers a number of programmes which include SNAP® Girls, SNAP® Boys, and SNAP® for Schools and SNAP® YouthJustice, among others, and Youth ACT is excited and prepared to launch whichever SNAP® programme it solicits funding for through these workshops.

“Extensive research carried out by leading scientists indicate that there are ‘seven years of warning’ before a juvenile becomes a serious, violent offender, and that the most serious juvenile offenders in the 15 and up range most likely entered the system under the age of 12. Also approximately 75 per cent of children who start offending before age 12 are at considerable risk of continuing down this path, and early onset of offending is one of the strongest predictors of subsequent re-offence,” said Michael Myles, Co-Chair of Youth ACT.

“That means we need to address the behavioural problems we see in at-risk youth early on and do it very aggressively before it gets further out of control,”added Bonnie Anglin, Co-Chair of Youth ACT.

Along with SNAP, Youth ACT chose the Youth Crime Prevention Day (YCPD) initiative and Children With Incarcerated Parents (CWIP) as the other two programmes it would implement from the National Security Council (NSC) and IPAC Reports to address youth crime in Cayman.  To date, the organisation has successfully delivered the YCPD to over 2,000 secondary students, and is now moving forward to implement SNAP®.

Mr Myles said that Youth ACT has been lobbying since 2013 to have the SNAP® programmes implemented in the Cayman Islands, and views the upcoming workshops as a last-ditch attempt to garner support for a proven and cost-effective method of reducing crime.  If unsuccessful, he says the organisation will move on.

“This is a community effort; it takes the support of all the major stakeholders and a willingness to commit resources and funding to fix this crisis. Frankly, we’re past the talk and also the apathy that exists among those who have not been victims of a crime.  Just because it has not happened to you personally does not mean it doesn’t affect you.  Crime affects everyone in our society, and we need to fix this problem as a matter of urgency,” said Mr Myles.

The by-invitation-only workshops will be conducted by Dr. Leena K. Augimeri, Director, Scientific and Program Development & Centre for Children Committing Offences at Child Development Institute (CDI), and Desiree Phillips, SNAP® Senior Trainer-Community Development Facilitator for the SNAP Implementation team at Child Development Institute (CDI).

Topics will include solutions that have been developed by SNAP to address mental health, behavioural and emotional issues, working with families to help them learn how to problem-solve issues and how to teach their children to make good decisions “in the moment”. There will also be a session for the police, prison and judiciary branches that promotes the use of a diversion programme and restorative practice approach to youth committing low level offenses who could be receiving help instead of a prison sentence.

Recent research has shown that SNAP can “reset” a child’s decision-making process in just 13 weeks. In Canada, where SNAP was developed and most used, it has a $32:1 cost-benefit ratio with a $147,423 savings per boy.  There is a 33 per cent reduction of crime after SNAP with 234 crimes saved per 100 boys as per SNAP evidence-based research.

“It works and we need it!” said Mr Myles.

SNAP has received the highest effectiveness designations by internationally-recognised bodies such as Public Safety Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada, the Child Welfare League of Canada, the U.S. White House, the U.S. National Gang Center, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Crime Solutions.

For more information about Youth ACT call Michael Myles on 925-2012 or Bonnie Anglin on 916-5169.  For more information about SNAP log on to www.stopnowandplan.com.

Youth ACT is a non-profit association created to develop and implement effective prevention programmes to address anti-social behaviour and reduce and prevent youth crime. The key objective of Youth ACT is to empower children with the required knowledge to prepare them to deal with the social, emotional and at-risk behavioural demands placed on them by their peers and society. Youth Act also advocates for a change in public policy in the penalties and punishment administered to youth and supports the concept of restorative justice.

Its mission is “To promote pro-social behaviour and positive decision making amongst our children and young people to help them grow into responsible and productive citizens.”

Its vision is “To reduce youth crime and the negative effects of criminal behaviour on our society.”

Its projected outcomes are, “A reduction in suspensions in the school system, a decrease in youth criminal offences, building healthy families and communities, and contributing to a safer and more productive society for all.”

 

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