UNICEF deeply concerned about child murders, sexual violence and violent discipline

New reports show scale of violence faced by children in Jamaica and worldwide

01 November 2018
Photograph of a child standing behind a wall
UNICEF Jamaica/Allison Brown

KINGSTON, 1 November 2017 – UNICEF is deeply concerned about the violence that plagues Jamaican children, who are among staggering numbers of children across the world experiencing violence – according to a new report released today. 

UNICEF’s global report, “A Familiar Face: Violence in the Lives of Children and Adolescents” uses the latest data to show that globally children experience violence across all stages of childhood and in all settings.

UNICEF Jamaica launched “A Familiar Face” today. Two other reports were launched at the same event – “Global Report 2017: Ending Violence in Childhood”, presented by the UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences, and a 2016 update of data on children and violence, presented by the Jamaica Crime Observatory, Ministry of National Security. 

“A Familiar Face” focuses on violence in four areas:

1. Violence against young children in their homes 

  • Close to 300 million (3 in 4) children aged 2-4 worldwide experience violent discipline by their parents/caregivers at home on a regular basis; 250 million (around 6 in 10) are punished by physical means. 
  • In Jamaica, 8 in 10 children ages 2-14 in Jamaica experience some form of violent discipline.

2. Sexual violence against girls and boys

  • Worldwide, around 15 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts in their lifetime.
  • Only 1 per cent of adolescent girls who had experienced sexual violence said they reached out for professional help. 
  • In Jamaica, among 10-15 year-olds, 24% of girls say they were forced to have sex on their first sexual encounter. 
  • 25% of 15-24 year olds who experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner sought help.

3. Violent deaths among adolescents

  • Globally, every 7 minutes an adolescent is killed by an act of violence.
  • Homicide is the leading cause of death among adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • In Jamaica, according to Jamaica Constabulary Force statistics: for the period January 1-October 21, 2017 – a total of 47 children were murdered: 29 males and 18 females. During the same period in 2016, a total of 32 children were murdered: 26 Males and 6 females. In total in 2016, 41 children were murdered: 33 males and 8 females.
  • Notably, more children have been murdered to date in 2017 than for the year 2016, and significantly more girls.

4. Violence in schools:

  • Close to 130 million students ages 13-15 experience bullying.
  • Half the population of school-age children – 732 million – live in countries where corporal punishment at school is not fully prohibited. 
  • In Jamaica, 6 in 10 students say they have been bullied at some point in their lives. 
  • While corporal punishment is outlawed in early childhood institutions, it remains legal at higher levels of schooling. 

Speaking at the launch event, UNICEF Jamaica Representative Mark Connolly said the new reports indicate deeply worrying concerns for children across the world and in Jamaica. “UNICEF Jamaica is particularly alarmed by the number of Jamaican children who die violently and who are regularly subjected to sexual violence and violent discipline in their homes, schools and communities,” said Connolly. 

To prevent and reduce violence against children, UNICEF Jamaica is urging the Government of Jamaica to urgently prioritize and accelerate efforts to:

  • Reduce the rate of child homicide.
  • Strengthen social services for children who have experienced violence, in particular victims of sexual violence.
  • Fully outlaw the use of violent discipline in schools. 
  • Educate children, parents, teachers, and community members to recognise violence in all its many forms and to use alternative non-violent methods of discipline.
  • Collect better disaggregated data on violence against children.

UNICEF Jamaica supports both government and non-governmental organizations to address violence against children. The organization supports school-based efforts designed to reduce violence and promote positive values and behaviour, such as the School-wide Positive Behaviour and Intervention Support (SWPBIS) initiative being piloted in 60 schools, led by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information. 

UNICEF also supports community-based efforts to prevent acts of violence before they begin, lead children away from gangs and use non-violent means of conflict resolution, primarily through the work of organizations like the Peace Management Initiative and Fight for Peace

UNICEF Jamaica also influences the development of laws and policies to help ensure they better protect children, chief among them the Child Care and Protection Act


Note to Editors

For more information about the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children, please go to end-violence.org

Media contacts

Allison Brown-Knight
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Jamaica
Tel: 876-618-6268 (office)
Tel: 876-279-8339 (mobile)


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