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BYM Calls for Meaningful Attention Towards Youth

Following the weekend tragedy at the Youth Hostel where three young girls were burnt in a fire on the compound, there have been outrage and harsh criticisms coming from several pockets in society.  The Belize Youth Movement is one organization that has joined the Special Envoy for Women and Children and WIN Belize in sending out an official release on the tragedy, with an appeal to the authorities to give youth issues meaningful attention.  The release reads, in part, quote, “It has taken the devastating death of three teenagers for our society to begin to realise that the social issues affecting our young people are at a boiling point.  The urgency, depth and complexity of these issues will require greater examination for there to proper understanding. Failure to give the issues adequate attention will result in further tragedies and crises. The reality is that the environment at the youth hostel, consisting of young people dealing with development challenges, is a microcosm. Young people throughout our country are under stress, facing dwindling support and opportunities and poor guidance in a country where there are sufficient resources to properly care for each and every Belizean.”  End of quote.  Meanwhile, the Mental Health Association also adding their voice to the issue, sent out a release earlier today, pointing out that this is not the time to be pointing fingers but rather a time for healing and a rational assessment to correct what went wrong, wherever possible.  That one-page document, reads, in part, quote, “A major error was made in moving the Hostel from Belize City in 2000 or thereabouts to its present location at mile 21 on George Price Highway and we must continue to find ways to mitigate the negative effects of this move.  We can certainly learn the lesson that institutions of any kind should generally not be located in isolated areas since any benefits realised from the move are more than cancelled out by the negative effects of isolation.   In this case these effects include, but are not limited to, reduced supervision, a decrease in interaction with family and community and hence the possibility of family counselling and rehabilitation, fewer educational options for the young people placed there, major costs for transport of personnel and materials and lower staff morale.   The Human Services Department has embarked on a thorough investigation of this particular incident and until it is completed it would be premature to make recommendations.  At this time the Mental Health Association expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the girls and its appreciation for the dedication of the persons involved with the work of the Hostel.“  End of quote.