Thu | Dec 7, 2023

Deadly interpersonal disputes raise alarm

Police commissioner urges parents to teach conflict-resolution skills

Published:Wednesday | September 7, 2022 | 12:12 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Major General Antony Anderson, Jamaica’s commissioner of police.
Major General Antony Anderson, Jamaica’s commissioner of police.


Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson has urged parents and communities to teach children conflict-resolution skills, noting that 15 per cent of the murders committed in Jamaica this year stemmed from interpersonal disputes.

Anderson made the call Tuesday during a press briefing where he revealed that there has been a 6.1-per-cent jump in murders compared to the corresponding period last year.

Previous data listed on the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Website up to September 1 recorded 1,018 murders compared to 962 for the corresponding period in 2021.

Though shootings have declined by six per cent and rape fallen by 16 per cent, robberies have climbed by 15 per cent and break-ins by 7.8 per cent.

The commissioner said that school violence has been cause for concern particularly over the last year.

Though discipline is primarily within the purview of principals, teachers, and deans of discipline, Anderson said that the police force has 211 school resource officers who are trained to support administrators. He pledged renewed focus on schools that were plagued by violence.

“In addition to our efforts, we want the parents and community to participate in ensuring that our children are safe. We must have the conversation with them about conflict resolution,” Anderson said.

Jamaica’s education sector was shaken by student-on-student violence in the last school year, including the March 21 death of 16-year-old William Knibb Memorial High student Khamal Hall, who was stabbed in a fight with a schoolmate, allegedly over a guard ring.

Prior to that incident, a student of the Trelawny-based Muschett High was hospitalised after being stabbed during a fight with another student on February 7.

On March 30, a 15-year-old of Petersfield High in Westmoreland was also stabbed and injured during a confrontation with a schoolmate.

Anderson said that eight murders recorded in the last 10 days of August stemmed from personal disputes, including conflicts over property and relationship issues.

Those included a deadly altercation between co-workers in St James and a dispute between taxi operators that resulted in three people being shot.

He also reported a stabbing death over a love interest in Hanover and a dispute over a goat that led to an uncle being stabbed to death, allegedly by his nephew, in St Mary.

“Murders resulting from interpersonal conflicts are often cleared quickly, primarily because the suspects are known. But lives are already lost, families are torn apart, and survivors or witnesses are traumatised, and in at least two of the cases, an eight-year-old and a 10-year-old witnessed the murder of a parent,” Anderson said.