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Fact Sheet: Violence and Children

Violence at home and in the community

  • Eighty-seven per cent of children aged 2-14 are subjected to at least one form of psychological or physical punishment. Thirty-six per cent of mothers/caregivers believe that children should be physically punished.
  • More boys are subjected to both minor and severe physical discipline (75% and 10%). Younger children are more likely to be subjected to minor physical punishment while older children experience more psychological punishment.
  •  In a recent study, 60% of 9 to 17 year old children reported that a family member had been a victim of violence and 37% had a family member who had been killed. Only 28% of children thought their community was very safe.
  • Girls are primarily the victims of sexual violence. In 2006, girls under 16 accounted for 32% of all sexual assaults in Jamaica. These girls suffer from a persisting cloak of silence surrounding sexual abuse – in the same year, only 20% of rape cases were reported to the police.
  • Boys are principally targets of intentional injuries and murder – of the 175 children under 18 murdered in 2006, 149 (85%) of them were boys. Boys were five times more likely to be treated for gun shot wounds than girls.

Violence at school

  • Children have had their right to education and leisure activities disrupted because of violence in their communities and school closures due to civil disturbances; boys continue to underachieve with implications for their involvement in informal and illegal sectors (exploitation and violence); and corporal punishment which has been banned from early childhood institutions is still tolerated in other educational institutions.

Violence in institutions

  • In 2005, close to 2,500 children lived in residential institutions. Over 270 children live in correctional institutions, many of whom grow up without family care, love and support and are often more vulnerable to abuse.



UNICEF and the Government of Jamaica are working closely to:

  • Revise and create protective laws and policies for children vulnerable to or affected by violence.  
  • Strengthen national and parish capacities to reduce children’s vulnerability to abuse, violence and any other form of exploitation and discrimination.
  • Strengthen social safety nets by improving coordination, monitoring and referral of children in need of protection, and improving access to quality care.
  • Develop and implement programmes that include children in mediation and violence-mitigation, and which encourage their participation in school and community lives.
  • Promote attitudes in favor of peaceful conflict resolution and positive disciplinary practices, through public awareness campaigns and an unprecedented zero-tolerance campaign to end corporal punishment in primary and secondary schools.




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