HEY SPEND hours on the corner, hanging out on the rough end telling stories, dreaming or simply idling.
Branded ‘unattached’ and ‘at risk’, this worrying group of approximately 140,000 young people between 14 and 24 years are potential recruits for some 280 deadly criminal gangs currently operating in Jamaica.
None of them are in school, roughly 50,000 of them are unemployed, and just under 80,000 are outside of the labour force, according to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica.
“They are youth at risk (for gun violence and gang membership), and they come from over 34 communities at risk in the Corporate Area,” says Dr K’adamawe K’nIfe, lecturer in the Department of Management Studies, University of The West Indies (UWI), in an interview with The Gleaner.
Lure of the gun and gangs
K’nIfe, who grew up in the tough Seaview Gardens community of St Andrew and who knows the lure of the gun and gangs, is behind Youth Crime Watch Jamaica (YCWJ) – a movement to prevent the formation of gangs and the immersion of youths into violent gangs.
“Until the majority of this vulnerable group of youngsters become actively and formally engaged, Jamaica will never solve the problem of gun violence and gangs,” K’nIfe states.