Pupils from two Newtownabbey schools got a lesson with a difference this week when they were taught how to not ‘Go to Jail’.
Staff from the Prison!Me!No!Way! team visited Glengormley High School on Monday, May 24, and then Hazelwood Integrated College on Tuesday, May 25.
The expert team,and other agencies and volunteers, took charge of the young ‘inmates’ and taught them about the consequences of crime.
During the day the children took part in a series of role playing exercises exploring different areas of anti-social behaviour and offending behaviour.
Colin McAllister, the co-ordinator of Prison!Me!No!Way! in Northern Ireland, explained that the aim of the project was to complement the schools’ excellent pastoral care policies.
He said: “Bullying, drugs, joyriding and anti-social behaviour are all problems that can lead to disastrous consequences.
“The objective of the programme is to make young people think about their relationships with other people and what the implications are of becoming involved in crime.
“I would like to pay tribute to the schools that have invited us to spread the message that crime does not pay to as wide an audience of children as possible .
“These schools are leading the way in showing their communities how to tackle the pressures and problems affecting young people.”
The annual Crime Days programme consists of a series of lively and stimulating workshops that explore different aspects of offending behaviour.
Among the organisations involved are the Northern Ireland Prison Service, the Northern Ireland Fire Service who will host a workshop on the havoc caused by hoax 999 calls, and a volunteer who will speak from personal experience of the tragic outcomes of ‘joyriding’.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) will also warn the children about the dangers of various forms of child exploitation.
The workshop, run by prison officers, makes use of a street scene to explore the problem of anti-social behaviour.
The pupils are encouraged to take on various roles to explore the relationship between homeowners, the police and unruly teenagers.