House hears update on antigang training in schools

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Government is taking the war on crime into the playground with a series of initiatives tackling drugs and gangs.

In the House of Assembly yesterday, Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley told MPs that an additional 60 primary school teachers have now been trained to teach a programme that encourages youngsters to develop social-emotional skills and self-control.

And the Ministry is also teaming up with education officials to discuss plans for anti-gang programmes to be taught in middle schools.

The ‘Al’s Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices’ initiative was introduced by the former government in 2009.

A total of 60 primary school teachers were trained up on how to help children between the ages of three and eight tackle issues such as conflict resolution, bullying, and the harm inflicted by alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

The programme uses educational tools such as puppets and music to convey its message through “fun lessons”.

This week, a further 60 teachers took part in the two-day training programme, while a 48 attended a refresher course.

“Words cannot express the necessity of instilling pro-social values and supporting positive behaviours in young people as early as possible,” Minister Dunkley said.

“The ‘Al’s Pals programme is designed for professionals to intervene early when children are first forming attitudes and behaviours. By intervening early, we can begin to address the issues plaguing our community involving drugs, crime and gangs.

“The Al’s Pals programme allowed teachers to be creative whilst delivering the individual lessons and is suitable for interacting with all students.

Some teachers have noted that they have seen definite positive changes in children’s behaviour when using this programme.

“To date, all preschools in the public system are using the programme and our reporting positive responses from our young students.

“The goal of the Phase Two implementation is to ensure the continuity and consolidation of healthy decision making and clear messages that no use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs is acceptable.”

Asked by Shadow Public Safety Minister Michael Scott if Government would consider extending the programme to address gang affiliation, participation and involvement, Mr Dunkley replied: “We have done that already.

“The Ministries of Public Safety and Education have held meetings with regard to establishing anti-gang programmes in middle schools and the House will be informed of our intentions to move on that.”

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Published Feb 16, 2013 at 7:49 am (Updated Feb 16, 2013 at 7:48 am)

House hears update on antigang training in schools

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