Amidst rising concerns over frequent incidents of youth violence, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) is urgently advocating for a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder approach to address this deeply troubling issue. While statistical data do not indicate an increase in overall school violence, the high visibility of these events signals a critical erosion of core values like respect for life, decency, and mutual understanding among our nation’s youth.

These acts represent a breakdown in essential value systems and a clear call to action for all parties involved in shaping the minds of future generations. Youth violence, whether occurring within schools or communities, often reflects deeper societal challenges rooted in homes and communities. This disturbing trend demands immediate and robust intervention. The PSOJ is especially troubled by the normalization of violence, as it represents a slippery slope that cannot be tolerated if Jamaica hopes to cultivate a society of peace and prosperity.

We urge the Government to prioritise this crisis by implementing necessary legislative amendments to enhance the ability of schools and law enforcement to crack down on gang recruitment and other anti-social activities in schools. Only by attacking this issue through both a strong legal deterrent framework and proactive social interventions can we hope to dismantle the herd mentality that perpetuates violence and lawlessness among our nation’s children.

“We can no longer turn a blind eye to the decay of positive values that are enabling this unacceptable behaviour among our children,” stated PSOJ President Metry Seaga. “Restoring peace and mutual respect in our schools is not just about enhanced security measures, but a holistic strategy to rebuild the very foundations of how we nurture and guide our youth.”

A key recommendation is establishing school-based Dispute Resolution Centres integrated within guidance counselling units and the offices of Deans Of Discipline. Staffed by conflict resolution professionals, these centres can provide a structured avenue for amicably resolving conflicts while fostering an environment of respect, understanding and peaceful co-existence.

Identifying students at risk of engaging in violence or anti-social behaviour is critical to getting ahead of the problem. The PSOJ is therefore urging for strategic use of data from existing interventions to equip educators and counsellors with tools for early detection and effective response.

“Data is the compass that will guide our targeted interventions and resource allocation,” stated Seaga. To that end, a key enabler of this comprehensive strategy is effectively leveraging data available through various government agencies, non-profits, educators, and community youth groups. Using this shared data collaboratively and strategically can reveal critical high-risk indicators often missed when operating in silos. This holistic approach to data use will highlight the environmental, social and personal factors that often lead to violent outbursts and other anti-social tendencies among youth.

“As we enter Child Month, we must reflect on the future we are creating for Jamaica’s children,” Seaga urged. “The PSOJ is intensifying our engagement with community leaders, parents and students. But we call on all Jamaicans to join this cause – advocating for policies and initiatives that promote peace, respect and empathy among our youth.”

The PSOJ remains committed to this mission through its National Values and Attitudes Advancement Committee. By prioritising safe, nurturing environments for all students, we can reverse destructive trends and ensure a brighter future for Jamaica.