Primary school pupils are prepared to avoid getting tangled up in gang culture after a six-week course designed to tackle antisocial behaviour and violence.
Ten students at Prospect Primary School in Pembroke, aged 10 or 11, completed the Gang Resistance Education and Training programme, run by two Customs officers. The youngsters said at their graduation ceremony yesterday they were now prepared to pass on the lessons they learnt.
Makeila Wainwright, 11, said: “I learnt that once you get into a gang even though you come out, they will still view you as a gang member.” She added: “Once you get in a gang, you are always in a gang.”
Classmate Teresa-Rose Burchall, 10, added: “When you get in a gang, people will see you as someone who is always in the gang and may still come after you when you leave the gang.”
Teresa-Rose added: “I learnt that when you get bullied or you get mad, you should go to an adult to solve the problem.
Savion Benjamin, 10, said he learnt not to be a bully. He added: “I also learned not to be a bystander.
“If you see someone bullying others, you should tell a teacher.”
The ten said the Great programme was a “life-changing experience”.
They also learnt about anger control, and to think about the potential consequences of their decisions.
Customs officer Willis Dill said if the children practised what they learnt then many of society’s problems could be eliminated.
He added: “Parents, if your children follow some of the guidelines that we have given them, society won’t have a problem.”
Colleague Lalisha Simmons said she enjoyed working with children.
She added: “This has been going on for a number of years and it has been successful.”
Wayne Caines, the national security minister, told the graduation class that the course was a good opportunity for them.
He said: “I know through my life experiences that the building blocks for success actually happen at this stage.
Mr Caines added: “As a country, as a community, as a school, we have to do more.”
He said the Government will continue programmes such as Great as part of its drive to cut back on violent crime.
Mr Caines added other programmes were being run in middle and high schools.
He said the community also needed to work together.
Mr Caines added: “We need to start to heal and to help each other.
“We need to find opportunities where no matter where you are in our communities, we need to advocate for mentorship, for opportunities through education, but more importantly, we need to work as a community for families.”
The Great programme was designed to teach life-skills to school pupils in an attempt to tackle antisocial behaviour and crime.
A total of 513 students in 22 primary and middle schools were trained under the programme last year.
A four-strong team of Customs officers were trained last summer as instructors and tasked with carrying out training in six schools.