picture-1Interesting recent article in The Jamaica Observer where UWI folks are using peer ethnography as a way to not only gather the data and the stories for their work but to draw those data and stories into their study through the lens of other street kids. The article focuses on a young higgler youth in Kingston named Blacks. An excerpt:

“When mi turn 16, mi si some people who seh dem a mi family, but mi nuh really know,” he says somberly. “Mi nuh like all di one who seh she a mi mother. As a matter of fact, mi hate har because of all that happen.”

According to Blacks, had his mother done what she was supposed to do as a parent, he would not be living on the streets.

“She come in like she out of her mind. She nuh really understand,” he says, his tone angry. “More time mi just feel pissed off. Mi know seh if she waan duh certain things (differently), mi wouldn’t de yah suh.”

Blacks’ sentiments mirror those of other youths in the 2007 study entitled ‘Force Ripe’: How youth of three selected working-class communities assess their identity, support and authority systems, including their relationship with the police. Youth in that study felt that they were being used by various groups in society, namely parents, the church, and the police.

Funded by the World Bank and managed by the now-concluded Jamaica Social Policy Evaluation Project (JASPEV), the investigations were undertaken by Dr Herbert Gayle as the principal investigator and his colleague from the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Horace Levy.

“They feel isolated and that people are using them and while it may not be true, the fact is that they feel this way means that it is serious enough for the adults in the society to deal with,” said Criminologist Professor Bernard Headley, in commenting on the study at the time. “It is a matter of trust. It means that something is wrong between us, and them. There has to be mutual trust.”

The work looked at youths between 15 and 29 years old from two inner-city areas and one rural community, and employed the use of peer ethnography. The technique saw young people interviewing each other and then returning to researchers Gayle and Levy, who, in turn, interviewed them. 

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