Meeks Gardner, Julie; Powell, Christine A.; Thomas, Joan A.; Millard, Doreen
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Caribbean Child Development Centre
Perceptions and experiences of violence among secondary school students in urban Jamaica
Pan American Journal of Public Health
Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Date of Publication
Objective: To obtain information on the perceptions and experiences of violence among secondary school students in Kingston, Jamaica, and its environs. Methods: Data collection was carried out from September through December 1998. Two researchers administered questionnaires in 11 randomly selected secondary schools, to a total of 1 710 students who were in either grade 7 or grade 9 and who were aged 9-17 years old (mean of 13.2 years). Frequency distributions of the responses were compared by gender, age, grade level, socioeconomic status, and school type. Results: Seventy-five percent of the students thought that someone who was reluctant to fight would be 'picked on' more, 89% thought it generally wrong to hit other people, and 91% thought it wrong to insult other people. Eighty-four percent knew of students who carried knives or blades from such items as a scalpel or a utility knife to school, and 89% were worried about violence at school. Thirty-three percent had been victims of violence, and 60% had a family member who had been a victim of violence. Eighty-two percent thought that violent television shows could increase aggressive behavior. Factor analysis of selected responses was carried out, yielding five factors: neighborhood violence, school violence, perceptions of acceptable behaviors, level of concern about violence, and general experiences and perceptions of violence. The factors varied with gender, age, grade level, socioeconomic status, and school type. Conclusions: These results will help focus interventions aimed at reducing violence, provide a baseline for later comparisons of perceptions and experiences of violence, and offer a basis for comparing the experiences of young people in urban Jamaica with those of young persons elsewhere.....