NPTAJ president says gangs recruiting students via social media

Stewart Jacobs, President of the National Parent Teachers' Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ)
By Nakinskie Robinson 
President of the National Parent Teachers' Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ), Stewart Jacobs, says social media platforms have provided sophisticated means for criminal networks to recruit children.
Mr. Jacobs says this has prompted a need for parents to be trained to identify signs and deal with gang recruitment, similar to the approach taken with smoking and alcohol consumption.
His comment comes against the backdrop of concerns about increased violence in schools.
The Kingston Western police last week revealed a worrying trend of gang violence in communities also spilling over in high schools within the division.
Mr. Jacobs says there needs to be a paradigm shift, in light of the variables at play. 
"There was a time when the gangs would have to come to your gate to speak to your child. They're no longer doing that. They're WhatsApping them. They're sending them a message on the phone. So they are being recruited, virally. So when they behave like that in schools, the gangs sometimes have that influence of reaching them." 
He suggested that some of the school curriculum must be channelled towards reconciliation of students caught up in these activities and parents must also be trained to deal with the situation. 
"But how do you speak to somebody other than a parent that you have been recruited in a gang and how does the parent deal with it? And therefore, there needs to be a holistic approach where parents are now re-engaged of how to handle these signs. Sometimes when they are being recruited by the gangs, there's no sign of it. It is when they come into the schools it manifests," Mr. Jacobs reasoned. 
In March, the Ministry of Education revealed that there was a total of 55 Critical Incident Reports, mostly related to violence in schools, during the 12 month period January 2022 to January 2023.
Mr. Jacobs has also argued that modern church denominations are not doing enough to promote a values-based system for the youth. 
"I would like for us to consider what is being preached. I've said it so many times that the new way of preaching has taken on a different shift - and I'm speaking about the non-traditional church, the new wave of churches. We find that what they are preaching is prosperity gospel, and how to get rich and how to stay rich. There's no longer that emphasis on forgiveness, understanding of human needs, the brotherly love, the sisterly love, the compassion," he complained. 
The NPTAJ president was a guest on the Morning Agenda on Power 106FM.

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