Pubdate: Mon, 16 Feb 2009
Source: Nassau Guardian, The (Bahamas)
Copyright: 2009 The Nassau Guardian.
Author: Lededra Marche
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


With the high number of school-age boys landing before  the courts 
for drug possession, police in Grand Bahama  say there are 
individuals preying on the youth in the  community, but a 
concentrated surveillance is about to  change all of that.

"Drugs and other things are not manufactured in the  schools. We're 
looking at how they are getting there,  what avenues are being used, 
where are the sources and  who are the persons actually responsible 
for that,"  Superintendent Alexander Roberts assured yesterday.

"We are happy that we have intelligence now which are  being 
intensified. So I am very confident at this time  that in short order 
you will be given some success  stories."

One juvenile learned a tough lesson last week when he  found out that 
he would have to spend the next 12  months carrying out community 
service for having drugs  on his high school campus.

Appearing before the Juvenile Panel, the teenager  pleaded guilty to 
possession of five grams of Indian  Hemp and admitted that he had 
been smoking for the last  four months.

The court heard that while he was a "good" boy at home  and had not 
shown any signs of drug use, his grade  point average was less than desirable.

The court also learned that the boy was using his lunch  money to 
purchase the drugs, but he could not say why  he began smoking in the 
first place.

As a result of the juvenile's guilty plea, he was  placed on 
probation for one year and ordered by the  Juvenile Panel to perform 
250 to 300 hours of community  service.

The youngster is also expected to undergo counselling  with both of 
his parents and bring his grades up over  the next year.

In breach of this ruling, the teen will serve three  months at Her 
Majesty's Fox Hill Prison. The magistrate  also warned the young man 
not to return before her on  another charge as he will be 17 in a 
year and will face  stiffer penalties should he be convicted. Having 
been caught and arrested on school campus during school  hours, it 
was also revealed that the drugs are not only  making their way on 
the premises, but that the teens  need not venture away from school.

Superintendent Roberts pointed out that anything that  is not 
positive will always be of concern to the  police.

"If we don't nip it in the bud it has a tendency to  mushroom and 
once it develops then it creates  additional problems in trying to 
rectify it," he said.  "We always aim to prevent something from 
happening as opposed to allowing it to happen and then trying 
to  devise plans to rectify it."

Convinced that there are some elements outside of the  school 
campuses that are trying their hardest to make  their way onto the 
school campuses, Roberts said the  police is stepping up its efforts 
to eradicate that  dreaded prey.

"What we are finding out is that there are persons who  are preying 
on our young persons at that age level. We  are doing some things. We 
are receiving some  intelligence. Hopefully in the not too distant 
future you should be seeing more of the activities that are  going on 
around the school," he said.

"We in the police department are really concerned about  the number 
of young persons going before the court.  Before they start living 
their lives it is taken away  from them. That is a grave concern to 
police and  obviously we will not stop until we get resources 
and  programs to reach them."

The senior officer noted that the youth will always be  a precious 
concern to the police, while adding that he  is very concerned about 
the far-reaching affect that  the neighbourhood policing program has 
in the schools.

"That is by measurement. If you look at the amount of  persons who 
are on the right path in the schools and  the kids who are resorting 
to drugs and other things  you'll see that that is a minority. That 
within itself  is very encouraging.

"What we are doing in the schools is we are identifying  leaders. 
Anytime you get one person can get 30. 40. 50  people to go behind 
them -- obviously that person has  leadership skills -- so instead of 
disconnecting with  them we partner with him or her and see how best 
we can  turn that around to be positive," said Roberts.

That, along with a number of other elements in the  schools, is being 
addressed by police, he added.

"We also want to embrace members of the public to  recognize that 
they, too, have a part to play because  we seriously believe that the 
home plus the church plus  the school equals success. That success 
comes as a  result of the togetherness."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom