Assembly calls for reform centre for troubled youths


22-November-2012

This was the gist of a motion brought forward by Grand Anse Mahe member of the National Assembly Lenny Lebon during Tuesday’s sitting.

Mr Lebon was calling on the government, the private sector and the civil society to consider opening up one of our islands as a reform centre for juvenile delinquents.

The aim of the centre will be to have them revamp their attitude and return to society as responsible citizens ready to contribute to its development.

He gave the example of the former National Youth Service (NYS), which as an institution, formed many young men and women into responsible, strong members of society who are contributing to its development.

“We need an institution that does exactly the job of the NYS, something somewhat comparable to boot camps in other countries, because the current situation where we are losing young men and women to social ills is threatening to damage all we have achieved as a country,” he said.

“This project will fall in the context of the moral renaissance programme, and although many people will see it as a juvenile prison, it is not the case. A juvenile prison is one where young people not yet 18 years old go to when they have committed offences but are too young to go to prison. The rehabilitation centre we want to see materialise is one which will reform young people with behavioural and anti-social problems, who have not yet committed an offence, and is seen as out-of-control by parents and the rest of society. The centre will above all help the youth get back on track and avoid seeing him or her end up in prison,” said Mr Lebon.

Mr Lebon asked for an integrated approach between the government, the private sector and the civil society.

“Such a service can be managed by a non-governmental organisation, with some financial help from the government and the private sector. For example, parents who want their children to attend treatment at the centre can pay a fee for the service, and young people who get sentenced by the Family Tribunal to attend treatment there will be covered by the government. This is how boot camps work and we should not be afraid to adopt this practise if it will do our society and our young people good,” he said.

He added that many people might ask why have another Youth Residential Treatment Centre (YRTC), when the one on Praslin failed.

“When we look at the level of delinquency in our young people, we should see why we need such a centre. Schools cannot accommodate such levels of misbehaviour from such youths, and do not have the capacity to reform them since schools are educational institutions, not rehabilitation centres,” he said.

“According to the research I have done, well-established boot camps in other countries have been very successful, and so I propose that the government invests in training Seychellois staff to be able to handle and treat the youths sent there. We must not be afraid to change the way we do things, and must be brave in wanting to do new things so that we can later on have another success story.”

The motion was approved unanimously by the National Assembly. 

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