Jamaica is an English-speaking country located in the Caribbean Sea to the south of Cuba. Jamaica’s potential for growth and development is enormous; however, according to the World Bank Country (2003), as cited in Gilbert & Sookram (2009), measured Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth over the years since 1972 has been unimpressive. Apart from its economic problems, Jamaica has a serious problem with crime and violence. For years there have been numerous attempts, through policy and legislation, to reduce the level of crime in Jamaica. Based on international statistics, this is a country that has suffered from a high crime rate for years, being near the top of international homicide rate lists since the 1970’s (Gilbert & Sookram, 2009). In this paper an attempt will be made to provide some level of insight into the possible contributing factors to violence in Jamaica. The factors that will be highlighted are social and economical (socio-economic) factors and how these issues relate to violence. According to Ask.com (2013), the term socioeconomic is a combination of two words - social and economic. The social condition of a person means culture, society, where a person is living and his interaction with the society. Economic refers to financial status of the person. So basically, socioeconomic condition of an individual refers to his society, culture, environment, his interaction in society as it relates to his financial status. Socioeconomic status (SES) is often measured as a combination of education, income, and occupation. It is commonly seen as the social standing or class of an individual or group. When analyzed through a social class lens, privilege, power, and control are emphasized (Violence & Socioeconomic Status, 2013). SES affects overall human functioning- our physical and mental health, the neighbourhoods in which we live, our daily activities, and our access to resources. Its effects can be observed across the life span. Inconsistency in socioeconomic status, such as inequality in the distribution of wealth, income, and access to resources, mitigate social problems. Low SES and its correlates, such as lower education, poverty, and poor health, critically affect our society as a whole. Social Impact
Social and economic factors have an impact on the state of people’s lives which in turn influence their behaviour. According to Gilbert & Sookram (2009), social describes the “family life interactions and close interpersonal relationships”, therefore when one speaks about the social issues relating to violence one would identify issues in the home, community, school and society that would lead to violence. If a child is from a home setting that has a high level of violence between family members, this child automatically knows no other way to relate to his or her peers, teachers, and other administrators than to employ an expression of violence. For instance, the child’s father comes home drunk and the mother asks him, “How long will you continue to keep up this behaviour when you know the money is needed for food?” The father responds with a slap across her face, “Shut up you chat too much!” he said. All these actions are done before the children anytime and anyplace. The son goes to school the seat he usually occupies now holds another boy. “Come outta mi seat” he said. “No one was sitting here when I came”, the new boy said. “WHAM!!!” a big thump on his mouth. This is how conflicts are resolved in his setting. This is the only way he knows due to socialization. Soyibo et al used an eight-item questionnaire, which reported on 16-17-year-old teenager’s exposure to community, domestic and school violence as victims or witnesses and as aggressors by virtue of injuring persons. In Soyibo’s study, students reported high levels of exposure to violence, with three-quarters of students witnessing violence and just under a third reporting injuring persons (Samms-Vaughn, 2013). There is a common saying:...
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