With 937,700 inhabitants, Kingston is the capital and largest city and main port of Jamaica on the southeastern coast of the island. It’s the financial, cultural, economic and industrial centre of Jamaica. However, around 20% of Kingston’s population lives in informal settlements. The city has the highest murder rates in Jamaica. Lack of employment opportunities, gang violence and illegal drug trade are contributing to Kingston’s high crime rates. Children and young people need protection so that they can stay safe and complete their education and training.
Since 1984, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Kingston.
Around 79% of children in Jamaica witness violence at home and in their communities. Kingston is particularly dangerous: most child murders occurred in Kingston and St Andrew which is nearby.
Jamaican children are exposed to violence in settings where they should feel the safest. Violence at home, school or in the local community is a part of everyday life for many. In some cases, the police are responsible for brutality, harassment and psychological violence against children or families. Many children who have witnessed violence suffer from trauma and need special support.
Kingston is one of three regions with highest rates of HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. Adolescent girls are three times more likely than boys of the same age to become infected. Sexual violence is a cause and a consequence of HIV/AIDS. Young children and adolescents who are forced to have unprotected sex are at risk of contracting the disease.
When children experience sexual abuse, they are at high risk of repeated and multiple abusive experiences in adult life. And so their chances of contracting HIV/AIDS also increases. Children and young people are in need of protection so that are not victims of violence.