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October 05
11:00 2018

At around 10:00am, on Tuesday, October 2nd, Belize Defence Force (BDF) soldiers and Police Officers were summoned to the girls section of the Princess Royal Youth Hostel to diffuse a situation where ten out of nineteen residents had climbed on the roof of the female dormitory in protest for not being able to take their usual exercise around the compound.

Shortly after the incident, the Ministry of Human Development and Social Transformation, under whose purview the youth hostel falls, issued a release confirming that the girls were all escorted off the roof safely by staff members with the assistance of BDF and Police.

The release explained that the girls gained access to the roof by breaking through the sheetrock ceiling and prying loose sheets of zinc because they were upset that their classes which would usually be held in classrooms had to be held in the dormitory instead.

The Ministry says that the disruption in the usual routine was because several staff members had called in sick on that specific day while relief staff were being escorted in to provide proper supervision for the activities.
This is not the first time that the particular section of the hostel has acted out. In April of this year 13 female residents were charged for damages caused to the building during an all-out frenzy in which they locked up one of the guards and wrecked one of the dorms.

The most horrific of all incidents at the institution happened during a fire in November 2015, which resulted in the deaths of three female residents. In 2011 another fire was recorded at the dorm, but there were no reported injuries, just complete destruction of the building.

A Representative from the Ministry told the Reporter that behavioural issues are common among the high risk female population, as many of them are affected by unresolved trauma that from time to time manifests into aggressive and destructive behaviour.
The Ministry also noted that over the years they have also seen instances in which mental health and psychiatric issues are contributing greatly to the destructive behavior that is manifesting. As such they have provided counselling sessions, assessment, monthly psychiatric evaluations as well as educational programs and sporting activities.

When we asked about the conditions at the hostel, Human Development, Programme Development and Communication Coordinator Kendra Griffith explained that the institution is managed by an on-site Chief Supervisor. There is also a regular inspection done by Social Services who makes recommendations for improvement as necessary. “We have zero tolerance for any form of abuse towards our residents, and all allegations are taken seriously and investigated,” said Griffith.

The hostel houses adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 who come in conflict with the law or who are deemed uncontrollable by the Court. All children are usually entered through the court system by committing a criminal offense or by parents who make an application for their children to be sent to the institution.

According to the Ministry the population usually comes from a background of abuse, neglect, violence, poverty and family dysfunction.

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