Dr. Chitan has been working with the Ministry of National Security to implement programmes at various levels. He has always emphasised the importance of addressing the root causes of crime and has been focusing much of his work on young people.
Dr. Chitan rolled out his SKN Gang Bridge Programme which is a three-pronged approach. The first component involves hundreds of grade six students throughout both islands. He began the initiative last year and it culminated with a Jamboree that marked the students’ graduation from the course before they moved on to high school. But, it doesn’t end there. Committed to providing further support, Dr. Chitan then introduced a similar programme for those students who are now in first form. His interactive sessions with the children cover values, coping with peer pressure, self-respect, and other pertinent topics to help them through their adolescent journey.
“I’m doing 27 grade sixes around the Federation. That means every primary school in the Federation [and] for every grade six we have the same session. Then, of course, I’m also doing the eight high schools, so we follow them into high school – that’s one component,” Dr. Chitan explained.
Community empowerment is the second component which he proposed to execute through the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP). The third component involves providing support for the residents at the prisons in St. Kitts and in Nevis.
“When they come back out, if they have the same attitude, and they don’t know how to deal with incarceration and all the trauma that comes with it, then there’s a good chance of recidivism, of course, when they come back out, and that could bring the crime rate up again. So, what we do [is] we go into the jails…where we give them skills and strategies to cope and make that transition back into society,” Dr. Chitan said.
He noted that negotiations were currently underway for his programme to be extended to the New Horizons Juvenile Facility.