September 25, 2023
Kingston, Jamaica. The Child Diversion (CD) Programme has now added an additional thirty (30) mentors to its programme assisting the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in diverting children 12-17 years old from the formal justice system.
Mentors involved in the programme, are volunteers, trained by the Ministry, in areas of Child Development, Child Rights and the procedures of the CD mentorship programme. They are directly involved in the treatment plans developed for identified youth in the programme who may benefit from this divergent option.
Venisa Clarke Lee, Acting Director for the Child Diversion Programme believes in and fully endorses the mentorship aspect of the CD programme. “Many of the offenders who come into our programme, do not have good examples in their homes or surrounding environs, hence the need for mentors. The role of the mentors are extremely important, as we anticipate that the individual interaction will assist the youth to see up close and personal, the character and responsibilities to be modelled, to become upstanding citizens.”
Mentorship is one of the diversion options used in the programme after the intake, risk and needs assessments are done when a child is referred to the programme. The mentorship assignment, which often lasts for a minimum 6months, is normally proposed for youths identified as medium to high risk. Mentors are recruited and assigned through CD parishes across the island.
Tricia Williams, a court reporter and mentor with the Kingston Child Diversion office for over five years, has testified to the benefits of the mentorship programme and endorse its positive impact. “Many of the high risk cases in the CD programme do not have a lot of positive reinforcement around them, making it tough for many of them to navigate the stages of development. Having trained mentors to assist them will help them to realise that mentorship can assist with making the right steps to seeing positive changes in their lives.”
The Child Diversion mentorship programme currently has approximately 500 active mentors across the 14 parishes of Jamaica. Upstanding persons over 18 years old, interested in making a positive impact on the youth are encouraged to sign up to be part of the mentorship programme by accessing the MoJ website at https://moj.gov.jm/national-child-diversion-programme