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service). The idea that a (sub)culture of violence has developed in urban Jamaica has its evidential basis in this reality. Subcultures of violence develop where the State is ineffective in treating with everyday social conflicts and social violence. The people therefore tend to avoid the use of the state institutions and instead resort to self-help violence as a way of resolving conflicts and seeking “justice.”  The problem becomes progressively worse and out of the control of the responsible institutions of the State which are increasingly ignored by the affected population.  Arresting the present situation is thus a matter of great urgency.

2.1.2.‘Roots’ of the Problem An effective strategic response to the problem must rest on an understanding of the “roots” of the problem. Violence has many roots. And there are different types of roots that exist at different (soil) levels. As noted by the report of the National Task Force on Crime 1993 (popularly called the Wolfe Report), individuals commit crime. An understanding of criminality, that is, the act of committing a crime, is thus incomplete without identifying the factors driving individuals to commit the different types of crimes. These are usually called risk factors. Primary research conducted by UWI academics have isolated these factors for children-at-risk; however, similar work has not yet been done on adult populations.6  Identification of these factors may aid interventions that serve to reduce risk and reinforce resiliency at the level of the individual-at-risk.  This is especially effective when articulated with similar analyses of the local contexts in which the individual operates and makes choices. For example, the identification of risk and resiliency factors for communities may aid interventions in communities-at-risk.   However, as critical as individual and local (community and school level) interventions may be, their success or failure often hinges on developments at the national level. The current high rate of violent crime is the outcome of a long process that has its “roots” in:

High rates of youth unemployment

Historically high levels of social inequality, and

An ineffective criminal justice system. These are empirically established relationships, not speculative conclusions or inferences from general theories of society and the processes of socialization and social control – although these may provide useful insights into the nature of the problem and

6 We refer to the excellent work of Dr. Maureen Samms-Vaughn and Julie Meeks-Garderner. See for example, A Case-Control study of Family and School Determinants of Aggression in Jamaican Children by Dr. Meeks-Garderner. It was published by the PIOJ in 2000.

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