The Caribbean and in particular Jamaica is experiencing an epidemic of violence which adversely affects its youth who are the main perpetrators and victims. Early and protracted exposure to violence is part of the socialization experience that results in violence-related behaviours.
This paper examines the impact of the early and sustained exposure to violence on the attitudes and behaviours of Jamaican adolescents from their perspective. An analysis of qualitative data collected from three studies between 2005 and 2009 among adolescents across Jamaica was conducted using the recurrent theme approach. Exposure to violence was common and increased with age and lower socioeconomic status and was most marked among marginalized inner city youth. While attitudes and behaviours in response to the violence varied among adolescents, there was a “dose response effect” in relation to age and lower social status. It is necessary to alter the socialization process in order to break the cycle of violence through wide ranging interventions that touch on every aspect of the spheres of influence in the life of Jamaican adolescents.