Dr. Glendene Lemard is Research Assistant Professor, Health Policy & Management, the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Managing Director for the Greater Springfield- University of Massachusetts Amherst Partnership. Jamaica is a small island developing state with one of the highest murder rates in the world. It is a democratic society with a stable system of government and many of the murders stem from interpersonal disputes such as acts of revenge, robberies and drug or gang-related activity. There is much discussion on the root causes of violence in the country but empirical analyses of the patterns in killing tend to reveal issues not readily seen or acknowledged by the society.
This presentation will examine the patterns of killings in Jamaica since independence in 1962 up to 2007 and will discuss the implications for health and development. The presentation will also examine the underlying factors that impact the growth in violence in the country which include the class structure, inequality and distinctions in access to opportunities. It will also examine social norms and mores that promote a culture of violence. Seemingly, "nonsensical killings" as in the case of some reprisals and many mob killings may in fact have patterns not readily apparent that suggest a rhyme and reason for such action. The information garnered can help to inform strategies to boost violence prevention efforts which will also be discussed.