The tragic fire at the Youth Hostel was not the only thing discussed when Love News Reporter, Courtney Menzies, sat with the authorities in charge. We received an in depth analysis about the inner workings of the institution. This will be a part of our Youth Hostel Series, which will be aired over the next few days. The first part of the series focuses on the Youth Hostel itself and the children who are enlisted there.
Courtney Menzies, Love News: The Princess Royal Youth Hostel has been branded by many as a prison that teenagers ages 12-17 are forced to go to when they cannot be controlled by their parents. On the contrary the Youth Hostel is actually a rehabilitation center that focuses on changing the trajectory of a troubled child’s life. The hostel itself falls under the umbrella of the Community Rehabilitation Center. Director of the Center, Starla Bradley spoke to us about how a child is admitted into the hostel.
Starla Bradley, Director of Community Rehabilitation Department: “The only way to enter the Youth Hostel is through a court order, a Magistrate has to order that this child be placed at the Youth Hostel. Either they are charged with a criminal offence and they are sent there or we have on record what’s known as uncontrollable behavior, this is called a status offence it’s not a criminal offense but parents would be the ones to go in front of the Magistrate and they have to convince the Magistrate that their child is “uncontrollable” and the Magistrate would then make that determination of whether to refer them first to us for voluntary services or if they should be sent to the Youth Hostel.”
Maureen Williams, Deputy Director, Community Rehabilitation Center: “The behaviors that parents would come and explain, things like they’re upstart, they don’t listen, they don’t want to help around the house, they go and come as they please, they smoke, they drink, the curse, they don’t want to go to school, they’re having sex and stuff. The behaviors that they talk about these behaviors aren’t unusual behaviors for teenagers, they’re not abnormal behaviors; developmentally in that age range it’s expected that those kinds of behaviors may happen.”
Courtney Menzies, Love News: There are currently 11 girls and 10 boys being housed at the Youth Hostel. According to the Deputy Director Maureen Williams they can accommodate about 24 girls but are sometimes faced with well over 30. With so many at risk teenagers it is no surprise when problems arise however Williams stated that major incidents are not an everyday problem.
Starla Bradley, Director of Community Rehabilitation Department: “This is especially true for the high risk children, you have your leaders and you have your followers so you’ll have those maybe on a regular day they wouldn’t try to escape they will go with the program but there are some who might trigger an incident and you have followers who will engage as well. They have always tried to run away, I guess now we’re hearing about it more because social media it’s easier but they’ve always tried to run away.”
Courtney Menzies, Love News: But is it an issue where maybe everyday or almost everyday there is some major incident, not just running away but like violence or kids hurting other kids and really destroying property? Is it like a frequent thing or ?
Starla Bradley, Director of Community Rehabilitation Department: “No.”
Courtney Menzies, Love News: You don’t expect that everyday.
Starla Bradley, Director of Community Rehabilitation Department: “Not everyday no. There are certain procedures and processes that are in place. Sometimes what happens is that a staff might not follow through completely on something and that leaves a little window of opportunity and most of the incidents that you’ve been hearing about recently, most of them are as a result of that little window being capitalized on by these kids.”
Courtney Menzies, Love News: So where are the parents in all of this ? It cannot be an easy decision to turn to the Youth Hostel for help with raising a child. While some parents stick around to see the progression of their child’s behavior there are others who simply write off their child.
Maureen Williams, Deputy Director, Community Rehabilitation Center: “Some parents find it difficult to deal with those behaviors and will come looking for help, they will come looking for help and be a part of the process but then you have others who will come looking for help for the child but don’t want to be a part of the process so they will bring the children and say ‘here do something but kind of leave me out of it.’ so they take no responsibility for the behaviors or don’t even see- and it may not be intentional but don’t see how some of the things that they do, some of the behaviors they have, the way they parent and those kinds of things affect the behaviors of their children.”
Starla Bradley, Director of Community Rehabilitation Department: “Sometimes the children come to us and they do well. They stabilize after a while and they’re ready to go home but home isn’t ready for them. Sometimes the parents don’t want them back I mean that’s the reality. Imagine a child having done the work trying to build his or her resilience and the family they don’t want them, that breaks that child more.”
Courtney Menzies, Love News: According to Bradley the longer a child stays at the Youth Hostel the greater the risk of them regressing becomes. Parents play an important role in the outcome of a child’s life after they have been placed at the hostel however this is only one challenge of the institution and there are myriads of other gaps that the authorities are trying to address.
In tomorrow’s newscast, we will bring you the second part of this series, which focuses on rehabilitation programs the Hostel provides.