According to the World Bank, murder rates in the Caribbean are higher than in any other region of the world, and youth homicide rates in several Caribbean countries are now substantially above the world average. A recent survey revealed that 20 percent of male students had carried a weapon to school in the 30 days prior to the study, and nearly as many had been in a fight using weapons.
The awareness that youth represent a unique window of opportunity to both prevent and reduce crime and violence in society at large has St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas issuing a call to the entire community to assist the law enforcement agencies in fighting youth crime. "What appear now to be big problems started from little things early in childhood," Douglas said. "How many of our children by the age of 12 know the contents of the Bible; know the right and wrong things, and know the things that in a way would speak to yourself?" Douglas explained that people have somehow forgotten the traditional values and recognizes the need to expand the range of opportunities for the children, creating an environment to foster their development.
After an eight year hiatus, the International Under-15 Cricket Championships were held in the Caribbean this year. The last such tournament-the Costcutter Under-15 World Challenge Championships-was held in England in 2000, with the West Indies emerging as winners. Cricket has long been important in the Caribbean, but the spotlight on the young West Indies squad will provide both inspiration and role models to many children in the Caribbean. The games, which began on April 19, 2008 at five venues in the Caribbean, are "set to act as a catalyst for the region’s fortunes in the game", with the final matches played on May 3rd and 4th, 2008 in Trinidad.
Nevis' Minister of Youth Development, the Hon. Hensley Daniel issued a call to help young people to turn away from crime, violence, and drug abuse.
"I want today’s young to play more. Play is vital throughout the life course. For youth play reflects impulse, diversion and preparation for adult roles. Play enhances social relations and child’s character and personality. It fosters co-operation, understanding and social bonding. The spirit of fairness is engendered by play. It promotes happiness and builds a positive self concept. It helps to rid the mind of negative thoughts and provides a useful outlet for aggression. Play engenders love, as people play together they develop a deep feeling of love for each other. Play is a medium for establishing and sustaining social relationships. It facilitates social adjustment."