Voice of Youth

Essays and Contributions from Youth - Many of whom won awards.*



Crime and Violence has scarred our Youth - How do we solve the problem?  -  Andre Gordon  - Black River *


Adolescent    Development    -  Jodian Grindley - Newell St Elizabeth


Suicide - Melesia Beckford - Portmore*


Grieving        Melesia Beckford - Portmore


The Growing A.I.D.S epidemic in relation to the Teens in Jamaica. Natalie McKenzie


Pregnancy and Parenthood    Samaya Luton


Pregnancy and Parenthood  By Terrion Swaby


Child abuse       Cerorce White


Sally   Marvesha Walker (16yrs) 


Suicide  By Suewhen Stewart


A man who had committed Suicide    By Taneisha Jarrett


Crime and Violence has scarred our Youth - How do we solve the problem?  -  Andre Gordon   - Black River High School St Elizabeth

This essay won a scholarship.

The Oxford dictionary defines crime as ‘an offence punishable by law’ and violence as ‘the unlawful use of force’. Hence crime and violence is any activity or behavior that infringes on the rights and privileges of a citizen. Some common unlawful and illegal activities include; theft, robbery, murder, police brutality, rape, political welfare, illegal drug fragment trade and gang warfare.

Crime and violence have scarred many teenagers in Jamaica both socially and psychologically. Families have been destroyed leaving our youth, mainly boys feeling unjustified, therefore, they take revenge on society. An example is when these boys lose their fathers to the gun; there is a high possibility that these boys will get involved with guns. An example of this is the “fatherless crew” in an inner city community. As the name suggests all these boys have lost their fathers to the gun and have formed a gang to take revenge on society.

The psychological effects sustained are responsible for the anger and hostility shown by our youth. Many teenagers grow up in a culture of crime, therefore, they hardly know the difference between right and wrong or they know the difference but just can’t stop the vicious cycle of crime and violence.

The history of crime and violence can be linked to general elections of the 1970s to early 80s. During the election~ campaigns politicians were responsible for issuing guns to their supporters and it was this involvement that led to the communities becoming garrisons. The communities more prone to violence are the depressed inner city areas in which many unskilled and under-qualified young people reside. The have no means of making a living but to live by the spoils that are issued to them by politicians.

Politicians say the young people are the future but what are they really doing for young people? They constantly make promises about the betterment of the youth, but are they living up to these promises? If you drive through the streets of Kingston, at every stoplight there is a street boy to wash your windscreen. Where are the provisions for these boys? Are they not the youth of Jamaica? Are they not a part of the future? Increasingly teenagers are reverting to prostitution as a means of making a living, they see no way out because there are little or no provisions made for them. Even our boys are being prostituted for a mere meal in many cases.

The only permanent solution to Jamaica’s problem of crime and violence seems to lie in our doing all we possibly can to help the nation’s children develop into law abiding and peace loving men and women. This is a long and gradual process, which begins at birth. It is the joint responsibility of parents, teachers, social and religious leaders. Since these people are an integral part of the youngsters’ education and training the contribution occurring from home and other relevant agencies is frequently so inadequate, the role of the school is usually supreme. While the importance of its academic and vocational functions cannot be overemphasized its socializing and humanizing powers must be duly emphasized.

Students need to be taught to think and reason, differentiate between good and evil, acquire desirable values, attitudes and values and habits to help build self­-confidence, self-control and discipline.

The environment, which is the educators’ most powerful instrument in this undertaking should be sufficiently healthy and stimulating to facilitate the learning that needs to take-place at each stage of the students’ development. At the center of the environment is the teacher, whose every utterance, every move made, every attitude or habit displayed make an impression on the young ones and are sometimes emulated by them. It is for this reason that the professional teacher is always a good role model knowing that if he/she is calm, pleasant and kind in demeanour, firm but fair and forgiving and kind with his/her charges, at least a number of students will gradually learn to adopt his/her good qualities.

The teacher-student relationship is a most critical factor in the process, unless it is cordial and mutually trustful, students will not be convinced that they are loved and valued, that schooling is for their benefit and that they should therefore respond with discipline, respect and cooperation.

It is not uncommon to find young people, especially the more aggressive boys terminating their schooling with a feeling that the teachers were their enemies and that school was a place of punishment instead of enlightenment and pleasure. Deeming themselves recipients of injustice, they sometimes proceed to wreak vengeance on the school and communities. This has been a marked weakness of our school system over the years, and is without doubt one of the major causes of the war being waged on society.

The youth are likely to become peaceful, law abiding and useful citizens if they are reared in an atmosphere of calm and peace, where work is pursued seriously and diligently, errors are discussed in a healthy manner and there are good examples for their guidance. Conversely, development into peaceful, loving and merciful adults can hardly be expected of youngsters brought up in a hostile climate, where there are constant gun battles and wars and where elders use little dialogue and poor examples abound.

 There needs to be a continued drive in the quest for better values and attitudes and until our youth are removed from a culture of crime and violence and brought up in an atmosphere of love, brotherhood and peace then we are flogging a dead horse.


Andre Gordon

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Adolescent    Development    -  Jodian Grindley     l6yrs

Newell High School,  St. Elizabeth,  Jamaica W.I.



 Jodian won a scholarship with her poem about Drugs.


Adolescence is the development stages between childhood and adulthood it generally refers to a period ranging from age thirteen (13) through age nineteen (19) or twenty one (21). Although its beginning is often equated with the onset of puberty, adolescence is characterized by psychological and emotional stages as well as biological changes. It is an important time because many changes take place and these changes influence in many ways the adult years that follow.


There are four kind of adolescent growth; physical, mental, social and emotional, spiritual growth is also a part of this growth as the young persons find out there values of beliefs. They all go on at the same time, of course, but each goes along at it own rate. One kind of growth maybe faster or slower than another. A boy may look two or three years older than he really is, but think and behave like boys of his own age. His body physical growth is a head or below his chronological age, but otherwise he is “at age.” A girl may be interested in books and excel in school work (mentally) far beyond other girls in her class at school, but she may be shy and uneasy (socially) with others and seem to be unable to make friends, she is much further advanced in mental growth than in social and emotional growth. Almost every adolescent shows some ways the uneven rates of different kinds of growth.


Adolescence can be prolonged, briefly or virtually nonexistent, depending on the type of culture in which it occurs. In technologically simple societies, for example, the transition from childhood to adulthood tends to be rapid and is marked by traditionally prescribed “passage rites.” By contrast, in America and European societies the transition period for young people has been steadily lengthening over the past one hundred (100) years, giving rise to adolescent subculture and to a variety of problems and concerns specifically associated with this age group. In contrast, the effects of early maturations on girls are more mixed. Early-maturing girls tend to be more popular with their peers but they are also more likely to feel awkward and self-conscious, perhaps because they are uncomfortable with attention, both welcome and unwelcome, their new appearance draws. Over time, puberty has begun at younger and younger ages. Part of the trend is due to improvement in nutrition and health care. The trends appear to be leveling off, however.

Between the ages of nine (9) and fifteen (15), almost all young people undergo a rapid series of physiological changes, known as the adolescent growth spurt. Beginning in the pituitary glands, the hormonal changes include an acceleration in the body’s growth rate, the development of pubic hair, the appearance of auxiliary, or armpit, hair, about two years later, changes occur in the structure and functioning of the reproductive organs. The mammary glands in girls, and development of the sweat glands, which often leads to an outbreak of Acne; in both sexes, these physiological changes occur at different times in different cultures, generally earlier in southern climates and later in northern climates. Girls typically begin the growth spurt shortly after age ten (10) and reach a peak at about age twelve (12) and decelerate markedly by age fourteen (14). The spurt occurs almost two years later in boys, thus, girl are typically taller and heavier than bots from about age ten and a half (10 ½) to thirteen (13).

In girls the enlargement of the breast usua1ly signals the first external sign of impending puberty. Actual puberty is marked by the beginning of menstruation, or menarche. In the United Stated, eighty (80) percent of all girls reach menarche between the age of eleven and a half (11 ½) and fourteen and a half (14 ½), fifty percent between twelve (12) and fourteen (14) and thirty three (33) percent at or before age eleven (11). The average age at which menstruation begins for American girls has been dropping about six (6) months every decade, and today contrasts greatly with the average of a century ago, between fifteen (15) and seventeen (17). Boys typically begin their rapid increase in growth at about twelve and a half (12 1/2) years of age and reach a peak slightly after fourteen (14), and slow down sharply by age sixteen (16). This period is marked by the enlargement of the testes, scrotum and penis; the development of the prostate gland, darkening of the scrotal skin, the growth of public hair and pigmented hair on the legs, arms and chest and the enlargement of the larynx, containing the vocal cards, which leads to a deepening of the voice; following a transitional period in which the voice cracks.”

Current views on the intellectual changes that take place during adolescence have been heavily influenced, I think by the mental capability of adolescent as both quantitatively and qualitatively superior to that of younger children. The thinking capacity of young people automatically increases in complexity as a function of age. Develop mentalists find distinct differences between younger and older adolescents in ability to generalize, to handle abstract ideas, to infer appropriate connections between cause and effect, and to reason logically and consistently. Whether these changes in cognitive ability should be attributed primarily to a new and invariant developmental as I suggest, or should be considered the result of accumulating knowledge that allows far new mental and moral perspectives are still to be discovered.

Compared with children, adolescents begin to think in ways more like adults. Their thinking becomes more advanced, more efficient, and generally more effective. These improvements appear in many different ways. An adolescents’ thinking is less bound to concrete events than that of a child. Children’s thinking focuses on things and events that they can observe directly in the present, while adolescent can better compare what they observe with what they can imagine. During adolescence individuals become better able to think about abstract things. Adolescents have an increased interest in relationship, politics, religion and morality. Adolescents have the ability to think about things in several ways at the same time. Adolescents can give much more complicated answers than children to such question as “what causes the 1991 golf war?” Adolescent have more sophisticated, complicated relationship with others because they can better understand other feelings. They also understand that social situation can have different interpretation, depending on one’s point of view. Adolescents think more often about the process of thinking itself as a result, they can develop better ways to remember things and to monitor their own thinking children tend to see things in absolute terms. Adolescents often see things as relatives e.g. in relation to or as a result of. They are more likely to question statements and less likely to accept “facts”, as unquestionably true. These changes can be frustrating to parents, whom may feel that their adolescent children question everything just for the sake of argument. However, such questioning is normal and helps teenagers develop individuality and personal convictions.

One by-product of this changing aspect of intellectual development is the tendency for adolescents to become self-conscious and self-absorbed. This tendency is sometimes called adolescent egocentrisms. Intense self-consciousness sometimes leads teenagers mistakenly to believe that others are constantly watching and evaluating them. A related problem is an adolescent’s incorrect belief that his or her problems are ungues, for example, a teenager who has just broken up with a girlfriend or boyfriend may say that nobody else could possibly understand what he or she is feeling, even though such breaking up is a common experience.

As individuals mature, they begin to see in more sophisticated and complicated ways. Adolescents can provide complex abstract psychological description of themselves, as a result, they become more interested in understanding their own personalities and why they behave the way they do. Teenager feelings about themselves may fluctuate, especially during early adolescences, however self-esteem increase over the course of middle and late adolescence as individuals gain more confidence. Some adolescents go through a prolonged identity as a result of taking the time to examine who they are and where they are headed.

During adolescence, individuals gradually move from the dependency of adulthood. Older adolescent generally do not rush to their parents whenever they are upset, worried or need assistance; they solve many problems on their own. In addition most adolescents have a great deal of emotional energy wrapped up in relationships outsides the family; they may feel just as attached to their friends as to their parents. By late adolescence, children see their parents and interact with them, as people, not just as a mother and father; unlike younger children adolescent do not typically see their parents as all-knowing and all-powerful.

Being independent also means being able to make ones own decision and behave responsibly. In general, decision making abilities improve over the course of the adolescent years, with gains in being able to handle responsibilities continuing into the late years of high school. During childhood boys and girls are dependent upon and relate closely to their peer. During early adolescences, conformity to parents begins to decline, while peer pressure and conformity to peer groups increase. Peer pressure is particularly strong during junior high school and early years of high school. Adolescents yield more often to peer pressure when it involves day to day social matters such as styles of dress, taste in music and choices among leisure activities; but teenagers are mainly influenced by their parents and teachers when it comes to long-range questions concerning educational or occupational plans, or decision involving value, religious beliefs, or ethics.

Becoming independent involves learning how to cope with peer pressure; during middle adolescence, individual begin to act the way they think is right rather than trying to impress their friends or please their parents; teenagers changes in four different ways during adolescents; there is a sharp increase in the amount of times . Adolescents spends with their peers compared to the time they spend will adults of their during early to mid-adolescences. Dating can mean a variety of activities from gathering that bring males and females together, to group date, in which a group of boys and girls go out jointly. There can be casual dating in couples or serious involvement with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Most adolescents’ first experience with sex does not necessarily involve an other person .Many boys and girls report having sexual fantasies about someone they know or wish they knew .It is also fairly common for adolescents to masturbate. By the time many adolescents reach high school , they have had some experience with intimate sexual contact, such as kissing, caressing, or sexual intercourse. In present society more adolescents become sexually active than in the past and they become sexually active at an early age. Many individuals and religious groups consider sexual activity outside of marriage to be morally wrong. They also urge adolescents to avoid sexual activity for health reasons.

Family relationships change mostly about the time of puberty, thus conflict can increase between parents and adolescents, and closeness between them diminishes somewhat. Changing adolescent views on family rules and regulations may contribute to increase this agreement among young people and their parents. Although young people may distance themselves, from their parents as they enter adolescence, this period is not normally a time of family stress. Most conflicts take the form of minor arguments over day to day issues. In many families, the decline in closeness among parents and children in early adolescence results from the adolescent’s increased desire for privacy. In addition, teenagers and parents may express affection for each other less often. Generally, distancing is temporary and family relationships become and less conflict ridden during and late adolescence.

Certain constants remain in family life. Among the most important is an adolescent’s need for parents who are understanding nurturing and not too demanding. Children raised by loving parents who maintain clear, and constant personal and social standard are more likely to have good feelings about themselves than children brought by harsh or lax parents. Adolescents raised with both warmth and formless or more likely to excel in school, to have close and satisfying relationship with others, and to avoid trouble with drugs and delinquency.

A young person’s move from primary schools to secondary through college can be difficult. In primary, the child had single room teachers who knew him or her personally; in secondary school, the child usually has a different teacher for each subject. In primary school children are usually rewarded for trying hard. In secondary school, grades or based more on performance effort. For such reasons, many students are temporarily disoriented during the transition between schools. Their self-esteem falters, and their grades may drop slightly, and interest in school activities decline. They may feel anonymous, isolated and vulnerable; parents can help by talking to the child before school begins about the differences he or she will experience. Many adolescents in industrialized countries experiment with alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and sex because of a desire to fit in with their friends.

Many adolescents see smoking, drinking and using drugs as a key to popularity. Other reasons adolescents experiment with drugs and alcohol include boredom and a desire to feel grown-up that is, they see drugs as a way to prove they are adults and no longer under adult control. Young people who abuse drugs alcohol are more likely to experience problem at school, to suffer from psychological distress and depression, to have unsafe sex, and to become involved in dangerous activities. Alcohol and drugs often contribute to automobile accidents, the leading cause of death. Adolescent substance abusers also expose themselves to long-term health risks that result from drug addiction or dependency.

Some female adolescent become pregnant before the end of the adolescence period, due to peer pressure or low self-esteem. Adult also can make adolescents feel more comfortable about discussing sexual matters. Unfavourable attitudes towards homosexuality may cause significant psychological distress for adolescent who experience gay and lesbians feelings, especially if they encounter hostility from those around them. Parents, caregivers and teachers can prevent unwanted pregnancies in adolescent by providing proper counselling, sex education and to instruct adolescents how to deal with their emotional feelings. They can also encourage them to be involved in physical activities. E.g. sports which will keep the adolescent to overcome trauma.

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