The Children

No doubt, the ones who suffer most in treacherous times, are the most vulnerable among us – the children.  They are often left to cope with the effects of the life altering trauma that results from living in these circumstances.  A recent study of 11-12 year olds in Jamaican urban areas found that 25% had witnessed severe acts of physical violence, 8% had experienced being stabbed, and over 33% had had a family member or close friend murdered.  Without adequate family and community support, these children are left to languish, many times resorting to anti-social and criminal behavior.

The last decade has seen a sharp increase in suicide among children, a sign of the desperation which permeates their life circumstances.

The Challenges

The last 40 years of Jamaican history have been characterized by politically motivated violence, mass migration and an unstable economy.  This remains true in the midst of the idyllic tourist experience which awaits visitors to Jamaica’s beautiful resort areas, primarily concentrated on the north coast of the island.  However, for Jamaicans, life has been far from ideal.
The effects of the social and political unrest have spilled over into every sphere of the culture, disrupting the equilibrium of life and compromising the future of the education, health and industry of the country.  It has threatened the fabric of life on the community and family levels.  Many face the future with a growing sense of despair, as poverty increases, hunger becomes more common place and opportunities for success disappear.

In 2005, Jamaica attained the unenviable status of having the highest per capita murder rate in the world.  Eighty percent (80%) of these homicides were concentrated in the urban areas of Kingston and St. Andrew.