Today’s Opinion: Time to get creative

POSTED: 05/17/11 12:16 PM

It’s not like nobody has realized this before, but now we have scientific proof to back up the notion that having a job leads to less criminality. Victor van der Geest will get his degree tomorrow based on his research into the decrease in criminal activities among youngsters in the 12 – 32 age bracket who underwent treatment in a judicial facility.
Van der Geest examined 270 boys who were treated in a judicial youth facility in the nineties of last century. While a large part of this group fell afoul of the law again, there is a clear decrease in criminal activities once they reach the age of 30 – even among repeat offenders.
For the effect on their criminal activities the kind of work the boys do seemed to be irrelevant. Having a steady job or working through a manpower agency however did have an influence. The quality of the job and the perspectives play a role.
Most of the men in the group managed to find a job, but only a small percentage was able to hang on to it. Somewhere along the line their convictions and their experiences during detention got in the way.
The bottom line is that ex-convicts who manage to keep a job are less likely to commit new crimes. This is something to look at in St. Maarten, for instance by examining the possibilities for a structured youth employment plan.
With the government strapped for cash it is not reasonable to expect that these youth-jobs can be created within the civil service. To get such a plan going the government needs help from the private sector. To get that help, the government could create conditions that make it attractive to hire young people, for instance by giving companies tax breaks.
While critics may argue that this offers companies the opportunity to get cheap labor to do their jobs, while the majority of salary workers already are stuck at the minimum wage level, one should keep in mind that leaving those youngsters to their own devices is costing our community dearly. It is time to get creative.

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