Tackle the Causes of Crime

The Editor:

Despite Jamaica’s accomplishments in the forms of educational opportunities, the onset of reasonable technological development, etc, there is no denying that Jamaica is still faced with some serious challenges. One such challenge is the crime rate. What is the cause of the rampant crime rate in Jamaica? How will we make any significant dent in the escalating crime rate in our country?

Via the Abeng News Magazine and with your kind permission, I will attempt to show the Jamaican authorities and our nation’s ordinary folk, among others, some salient factors that lead, over time, to the senseless murder and crime that exist in Jamaica. This is with a view to prevent it from continuing and to make Jamaica’s crime situation more manageable.

Every citizen or resident of our country needs to learn to be responsible for his/her own actions. This must be taught to everyone; parents, guardians, caregivers, teachers, politicians, but very importantly, every child should have this trait instilled in him/her from age one day old! From an early age, the family structure, the church and the school community must have serious liaison to discuss and attend to, all potential challenges that are usually observable from the onset of a child’s upbringing.

In addition to acting responsibly on an individual basis at all times – in such roles as artistes in  producing uplifting music, movies that playwrights write to motivate the youth and the populace to hard work in attaining success, standup comedies, books written, parental actions or inactions thereof – each community has the added obligation to act responsibly and with respect for their fellow citizens  and to address those conditions which hinder healthy development and can become the uterus for crime.

We need to put aside those opportunities for economic gains which in the ultimate run only lead to the destruction of our nation, erosion of our values and the butchering of our children. Those “hurry come up” economic acts that make the nation, as a whole, insensitive and numb to the feelings of the not-so-privileged amongst us, the sick, the indigent, our children, the so-called street people, must go for good.

The foundation of crime is well researched and documented. Crime is primarily the consequence of numerous adverse economic, social, cultural and family conditions as exist in Jamaica today. To prevent crime, it is important to have an understanding of its origin.

The factors in the aforementioned are linked and may be expressed in the following strands:

– Economic Factors/Poverty

– Social Ambience

– Family Organization

Economic Factors/Poverty

Apart from the deficiencies in meeting financial resources, poverty festers its being in the forms of lack of educational opportunities for the masses, lack of decent employment opportunities, inadequate housing, lack of hope or the evolution of desperation in the minds of those concerned as well as prejudice and heartlessness.

This kind of prejudice usually takes on a form and shape that even those who are its frequent vectors and purveyors are unaware of it. It results in inactivity, callousness and the exhibition of scant regard on the part of the authorities including the government, political opposition and the affluent in our midst.

Social Ambience

Our social structure and environment reflect to our Jamaican citizens and communities that which we value and how we set our priorities. At this time in our history, the image being reflected in this mirror is a stained one.

 Some social root causes of crime are inequality; a feeling of powerlessness; lack of support to  families and neighbourhoods, real or perceived; unavailability of services; lack of leadership in our Jamaican communities; low value placed on children and individual well-being; the over exposure to television as a means of recreation, especially without mature,  parental/adult guidance. All the above can, and will lead to obvious grave consequences, fertilizing and augmenting crime in Jamaica, if not contained quickly.

Family Organization

The role of this institution is to augment the required and unique production of well-adjusted, responsible members of society. It is important to remember that the task of putting children first goes well beyond the family and includes all communities and the Jamaican society as a whole. There was once this popular saying among some Jamaican politicians that we must put people first. We should continue to think and act in this line but the people we talk about should include all our people, including our children and the poor.

It is obvious that dysfunctional family conditions breed future and constant, unhealing delinquency. It is therefore mandatory that the legislators enact laws that will ensure that the kind of structures that I write of today, will become a reality. A family structure that MUST include first-time and young parents getting the necessary, basic parenting skills; a society that will see that a quick “bread” earned should not be at all cost or at the blood of our toddlers and children!

The root causes of the Jamaican crime situation are the result of many maladies of the society. It is because of parental neglect of our children, parental conflicts especially those leading to separation and/or divorce and constant disrespect between parents, parental criminality and a deficiency in communication among parent and children, children left to run loose without any guidance. It is also caused by lack of respect and responsibility, the abuse of our children, et al. These phenomena have the same effects whether in Jamaica, the USA, Canada or anywhere else on the globe.

Crime can be closely and directly linked to the conditions for children in our Jamaican communities as described above. It has also been researched and proven that there is a strong link between reducing risk and creating resilience in children and reducing crime.

It has also been established that problems arise when the larger social, political and economic systems within which children live, jeopardize the family’s resources and create stress on the family unit. Consequently, the provision of appropriate care and required resources to all children will have great significance for their long term physical, intellectual, and emotional well-being and their development into independent, healthy adults and it is these factors that will determine whether or not our children will turn out maladjusted and consequently involved in the kinds of senseless acts that Jamaica is experiencing today.

Our Crime prevention efforts must therefore focus on ameliorating all the adverse, unacceptable factors which obtain in Jamaica today,  and which I alluded to in this article.

I am,

Joshua Spencer


Toronto, Canada

About Joshua Spencer

Joshua Spencer is an educator, author and poet. He writes out of Toronto Canada

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