Young men un­der the gun

IDB study finds males be­tween 18-35 most likely to be vic­tims and per­pe­tra­tors of homi­cides

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOCIAL | SOMETHING EXTRA - An­dre Poyser Staff Re­porter an­dre.poyser@glean­

AN IN­TER-AMER­I­CAN Devel­op­ment Bank (IDB) study on crime and vi­o­lence in Ja­maica has noted that most vic­tims and per­pe­tra­tors of homi­cides are male, young, un­e­d­u­cated and poor.

The study, which dis­ag­gre­gated homi­cide data based on gen­der, in­di­cates that 90 per cent of all vic­tims of homi­cides are males.

“Given that most killings are gan­gre­lated and con­fronta­tional, the gen­der pro­file of the killers is ex­pected to be sym­met­ri­cal,” the re­port said.

Ac­cord­ing to the study, be­ing male and young mul­ti­plies a per­son’s risk of be­ing a vic­tim of homi­cide.

Homi­cide data for 2013 show that 51 per cent of vic­tims were males aged 35 or younger. Of those in­di­vid­u­als, 27 per cent were ages 26-35, 20 per cent were be­tween 18 and 25, and four per cent were younger than 18.


While not­ing that mur­der is dis­trib­uted across all age groups, the IDB says it is pri­mar­ily a prob­lem that af­fects youth. Anal­y­sis of the age dis­tri­bu­tion of homi­cides among young males in the study shows dis­pro­por­tion­al­ity in homi­cide vic­tim­i­sa­tion for males in the 26-35 age group, who make up only 15.8 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

The 15-24 age group rep­re­sents 19.5 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion and ac­counts for 20.4 per cent of all homi­cide vic­tims.

“Peo­ple are ex­pected to age into and out of the high-risk pools or age sets of po­ten­tial vic­tims,” the study said.

Turn­ing its at­ten­tion to the per­pe­tra­tors of homi­cide, the study pointed out that as is the case with homi­cide vic­tims, the vast ma­jor­ity of homi­cide sus­pects are male and young.

In 2013, some 97.3 per cent of all per­sons ar­rested for mur­der were males, and 84.8 per cent of these sus­pects were age 35 or younger.

“Marginalised ur­ban males be­tween the

ages of 15 and 25 are re­spon­si­ble for a large share of the vi­o­lence in any given so­ci­ety, so de­mo­graph­ics mat­ter. This is con­sis­tent with Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force (JCF) data show­ing that vi­o­lent crimes are dis­pro­por­tion­ately con­cen­trated in com­mu­ni­ties that ex­pe­ri­ence high lev­els of so­cial ex­clu­sion, in com­mu­ni­ties of­ten la­belled as in­ner-city or in­for­mal set­tle­ments, and among young men be­tween the ages of 16 and 30. So so­cial ex­clu­sion also mat­ters,” the study said.

The IDB study fur­ther pointed to the fact that gangs are a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to Ja­maica’s homi­cide rate and are gen­er­ally pop­u­lated by males be­low the age of 35.

Ac­cord­ing to the JCF, there were 238 gangs op­er­at­ing in Ja­maica in 2013.

The gangs are clas­si­fied as first-, sec­on­dand third-gen­er­a­tion gangs. First-gen­er­a­tion gangs, which ac­count for 90 per cent of the 238 gangs, are the least or­gan­ised and ex­hibit the low­est level of vi­o­lence.

“We know lit­tle about the risk fac­tors as­so­ci­ated with join­ing gangs. So while much is known, much more needs to be un­der­stood in or­der to bet­ter in­form the var­i­ous types of pre­ven­tion and con­trol pro­grammes,” the study said.


Homi­cide data for 2013 show that some 51 per cent of vic­tims were males aged 35 or younger. Of those vic­tims, 27 per cent were ages 26-35, 20 per cent were be­tween 18 and 25, and four per cent were younger than 18.

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