“Knowledge is only potential power... power is only truly demonstrated when you begin to take action.”
So said Ancil Dennis, Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Chief Secretary and Member of the Inter-Ministerial Committee of the National Crime Prevention Programme (NCPP) on Tuesday as he addressed the audience at the NCPP Youth Outreach Engagement held at the Conference Room of the Division of Community Development, Glen Road, Scarborough.
The event was the third in a series being hosted by the Ministry of National Security with this session held in Tobago in collaboration with the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Divisions of Education and Sport and Youth Affairs.
Dennis said the Outreach Engagement was about introspection and unlocking leadership potential.
“Introspection because I think when we evaluate our society, in Tobago, in our respective communities and of course, nationally as a country... I think we ought to admit that we are in some serious trouble. If we were to simply look at the crime rate, specifically at the murder count, we’re already at 60 murders and we’re still in the second month of the year.
“If you were to look at the last three years, we would see that there is a significant increase in the amount of crime taking place, both nationally and of course here in Tobago. Therefore, we ought to be concerned as young persons, and even as seniors living in this space called Tobago or Trinidad and Tobago. “Therefore, when we do the introspection, we recognise first of all that there is a leadership void,” he said.
Dennis encouraged the youths gathered to take action since they too were leaders.
“Wherever you may operate, even in your respective capacities as students in your schools... all of us have the capacity to lead. Tobago and Trinidad and Tobago will only be a better place when that capacity to lead, when that leadership potential, is unlocked in all of us.
“Power is only demonstrated when you take action! You have the capacity to lead to change your school, your community and nation. It can only be done when you take the necessary action,” he said.
In his address, retired Major General Rodney Smart, National Coordinator for the NCPP, said that the youth has the answers to safety and security…
“It is about unlocking that potential... you have been schooled all these years and you have a knowledge and an experience that some don’t have and that is what we’re calling on you to do. We felt that we could not go forward in planning crime prevention if we didn’t hear from the youth.
“The NCPP is about identifying and understanding some of the root causes of crime and implementing solutions in Tobago. Too many of our young persons are dying, now you have the opportunity to stop this haemorrhaging. As such, we are here today for you to share your ideas, so we’ll have a better Tobago,” Smart said.
Glenda Jennings-Smith, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, also said that having watched young people do battle as offenders and victims, they are the way forward.
“You have the answers, you are the change makers and today we feel confident that we are closer to preventing crime than we were yesterday.
“We listened to you here in Tobago today... I heard fears, anxiety, frustration but among all of those, I heard hope. Hope as you provided solutions, that you had not given up and today I guarantee you that your contributions have been recorded and will be actioned. Your hope is not in vain... we usually say that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow, but I have put a new mantra to that, and I say that you are the leaders of today because where you sit as young persons, you can influence our communities. You can influence our leaders’ action and you can influence your country by your action or your non-action,” she said.
During the session, the participants which consisted of secondary school students, teachers and guidance counsellors, engaged in the working sessions, discussing factors contributing to crime prevention from the sociological domains of the family, individual, peer group, school and community