As violent crime literally claims or dominates the lives of so many youths, the country overall is robbed of much of its human potential. The instability of the social environment, the high incidence of violent crime, and the risk of extortion also strongly affects local businesses and deters potential foreign investors. The high security costs drives up the buying price of export goods, making Jamaican made products significantly less competitive on the global market. This greatly affects Jamaica’s potential for economic development and as such affects the entire population.
Jamaica is a beautiful country known for its rivers, beaches and not to mention homestyle cooking but like any other country we have problems that are also faced on a global scale. The plague of crime and violence is nothing new to our ears but what are the causes that help to fuel such unwelcoming acts and is there a solution?
In reality, the consequence of people being kept at a social and economic disadvantage greatly increase the risk of turning to crime combines with factors such as substance abuse, unemployment, home environment and other factors.
Low family income and poor housing often amplify poor parental supervision, marital disharmony, inconsistent care, poor nutrition, chronic health care problems, poor school performance and psychological disorders. Unsatisfactory living conditions are particularly stressful during pregnancy ( Harriot, 2008). Fetal development is negatively affected by maternal stress. Such stress has shown to be closely related to ill-health, neurological problems, slow development and behavior disturbances in children. While there is not direct cause and effect relationship between poverty and crime, the conditions arising out of poverty combine to create high risk populations who are over represented in the criminal justice system.
According to the Planning Institute of Jamaica (2008) many studies find that a high number of youth and adults admitted to correctional facilities are unemployed. Persistent unemployment often creates a sense of despair, particularly amongst youth and can provoke angry expression including theft, substance and alcohol abuse, as well as child and family violence. Similarly, unemployed men released after terms of incarceration are more likely to re-offend. Failure in school and an unstable job situation can combine to continue an individual’s involvement in crime.
Drugs are related to crime in multiple ways. Most directly, it is a crime to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute drugs classified as having a potential for abuse. Cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and amphetamines are examples of drugs classified to have abuse potential. Drugs are also related to crime through the effects they have on the user’s behavior and by generating violence and other illegal activity in connection with drug trafficking. Alcohol and substance abuse are often associated with criminal behavior. Many offenders are under the influence of drugs or alcohol when offenses are committed. Regular alcohol use during adolescence can lead to higher conviction rates in adulthood. To a lesser extent, research speaks of the influence of television and other multi-media on the behavior of children. There is also some evidence that there are links between diet and violent behavior ( National Council on Drug Abuse, 2006).
There is a direct link between the abuse of women and child abuse and future delinquent behavior. The home environment plays a part in the cause of crime and violence. Lack of parental supervision, parental rejection and lack of parent-child involvement are consistent indicators of delinquent behavior. Parenting that features inconsistent, incoherent, overly punitive or too permissive methods of discipline also increase the risk of delinquency. Studies show that unwanted pregnancy and teen pregnancy create higher risk factors towards criminality (Youniss,1980). Ineffective parenting encourages youth to associate with peers who are involved in criminal activities. As children, offenders are less successful in school, have lower attendance rates and are more likely to leave school early than their peers. Early school leavers experience many difficulties, the most obvious being unemployment or under-employment. The influence of music is also a contributing factor to crime and violence in Jamaica.
Dancehall music has become increasingly violent in the past few years and it is evident that it is influencing our people negatively, especial young people. It is no secret that Jamaican teenagers look up to and imitate the behaviors of our Jamaican Artists. Watching the incredible violent videos of sensation Tommy Lee and Masicka, it is hard to believe that they would allow the distribution of such violent songs and videos. Some videos are so violent that can not be vied on television and can only be found on popular social network youtube. The songs are also heavily edited for airplay. What are the ways we can lesser crime and violence? Is there any solution or prevention?
Criminal justice capabilities of all levels of government have been significantly strengthened over the past three decades, largely as the result of increased spending for criminal justice purposes. Today law enforcement and other justice agencies are better staffed, better trained, and better equipped than they were thirty years ago. Most have also been able to modernize by automating and enhancing their records and data systems, improving communications, upgrading forensic capabilities, and introducing computerized mapping and other analytic techniques (Allen, 1980). Today, community policing has been adopted by most of the Nation’s larger law enforcement agencies and its core concepts are increasingly being applied to other areas of the criminal justice system, including prosecution, courts and corrections (Harriott, 2006). This community justice movement is diminishing the distance between the police, prosecutors and other justice officials, and the communities they serve; helping restore and strengthen communal bonds; and bringing a wider range of resources to bear on solving specific community problems (Allen,1980). There is hardly any expert on either Jamaica, or crime in general, but there seems to be a great deal of crime is poverty related. Desperate, isolated, disenfranchised people are far more likely to either commit crimes, or not care about other committing crimes (Harriott, 2006). What had happened to that man, where he felt murdering a child was worth it, just for a phone and watch? It is not a quick process, but if you want to do something about crime, have the community support one another, take pride in themselves and what they have accomplished, with jobs, and make sure people have food on their plates, roofs over their heads, and their families taken care of. Crime is in many respects a failure of society. Society must be strengthened, and it is problems addressed if it is to be stopped (Harriott,2006). Food, work, and particularly, a future for yourself and your children (Youniss,1980). You have those three things, and crime will go down, because people won’t feel so desperate that they will do horrible things just to survive. Everyone wants to feel safe, secure and not have to worry about tomorrow.
Allen, D. (1980). Crime and Treatment in Jamaica. In Crime and Punishment in the Caribbean, eds. Rosemary Brana-Shute and Gary Brana-Shute. Gainesville, FL: Centre for Latin American Studies, University of Florida.
Crime and Violence in Jamaica. (2016). Retrieved from
Harriott, A. (2006). Police and Crime Control in Jamaica -problems of reforming ex-colonial constabularies. Kingston: University of the West Indies.
Harriott, A. (2008). Bending the Trend Line: The Challenge of Controlling Violence in Jamaica and the High Violence Societies of the Caribbean., Kingston: Arawak Publications.
National Council on Drug Abuse (2006). National Secondary School Survey 2006. Washington, DC: Organization of American States/InterAmerican Drug Abuse Control Commission (OAS/CICAD); 2006.
Planning Institute of Jamaica. (2008). Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica.
Youniss, J. (1980). Parents and Peers in Social Development: A Sullivan-Piaget Perspective, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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