INTRODUCTION

Jamaican youth are key agents for social change, economic development, and technological innovation and are a major human resource for development. Youth ages 11 to 19 are also an important demographic group, comprising almost one-third of the population in the year 2000. Less than one-half of Jamaican youth live in households with both parents and nearly one in five under 18 live in households without either parent—placing such youth at greater risk for a range of negative outcomes.
The policy and programme responses must recognize the complexity of the factors that contribute

to single-parent, unstable households. While efforts must continue to address the root causes of such instability, policies and programmes for young people must acknowledge the variation in their living arrangement.
Strong community and social structures are important to ensuring positive youth development. It has been found in Jamaica and elsewhere that "…the relationship between poverty and violence is mediated… through social institutions, ranging from the family through local organizations such as sports clubs and dance halls to formal institutions such as church, schools, and the police."
Consequently, private sector organizations should be encouraged to address issues of youth socialization and economic opportunities to an even greater extent than they are currently doing. These organizations are uniquely placed to facilitate young people's development as they prepare the journey to be future
leaders.

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