Challenges Most Ghetto Youths Face


Many of us who live in the inner-city lack knowledge because we didn’t get to finish school. This would have been the outcome of many reasons.


In my particular case, one of the reasons I didn’t complete my studies was because I didn’t have strong parents to stand by me and to guide me. With good parental guidance I might have got somewhere in life. As a result of this I stopped going to classes. Many young men from inner-city communities find other things to do when they should be in class.


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Because we feel this lack of education we look at life as just good or bad. We feel ill-equipped to think for ourselves and allow others to do our thinking for us. So we end up doing what they tell us we should do. Even if our parents encouraged us to go to school we often found time to do other things.

Let me tell you something. I am not qualified in any subjects because of skipping classes. I skipped classes in primary school right through to high school. I can honestly say that, as a result of this, I am now vexed, as I didn’t accomplish my goals. I can look around and see youths who have left nothing for something. How did they manage to do this? Because they said to themselves they wanted something out of life. They were persistent in their efforts. I believe that we can achieve anything in life if we just put our mind to work. So we need vision and persistence.


As I said already, I feel that I didn’t have anyone around to guide me; to tell me that what I was doing was wrong. At the time it felt right to skip classes. My little brother was more serious in his school attendance than me. I went to Vauxhall High and he went to Jamaica College. He left school with three to four subject passes. He showed commitment at school whereas I stopped going from eleventh grade in March 2003. Why? Because, in my thinking, I had wasted so much time skipping classes. I had no one who cared, right from the beginning. So although I blame myself for some of these outcomes, I had very little parental support.

Where were my parents during my formative years? Well, I barely know my mother. She lives in America. I honestly don’t know what a mother’s love feels like.

My father lives here in Jamaica, but he gave up on me from primary school because I did get the chance to do the test twice and I didn’t do it. Had he given me another chance I possibly would have accomplished something in life. However, I do accept some of the blame myself for what has happened to me. There are many who can talk like me, say the same as me.

There was a time, in fifth form, when I decided to take things seriously. I told my dad and he laughed at me and I cannot repeat the words he said to me. I was able to stop myself from retaliating and fell back on telling myself that I was the cause of all this. If I had taken my lessons this would not have happened.

I’m not looking for any name or fame. Most of the time I feel to let go of life, but something keeps holding me back. Something keeps telling me that this is just a phase – a phase of my own and to be strong Shane, and don’t let go. But it’s hard to be strong at times. Why is this?


Because much of the time the environment we live in and around has a lot to do with how we live and how we socialise with others.

Many of us have no humility. What is the cause of this no one knows but ourselves. Some would blame others, some would blame the environment. Many would blame ‘the system’ and I agree with this. Why? Because of the experiences we have had. At first I was moving too fast and foolishly thinking that things would go the way I wanted. That’s how many here think. Our parents allowed us to do things we shouldn’t so you’ll find that some are disrespectful, bad-mannered, without ambition and humility. I was like this but I am glad for the little knowledge I gained in school. I never took it seriously but I give thanks to the Most High JAH.

A lot of youths are facing financial problems, parenting problems, levity problems and environmental problems. The most important problem is ‘the system’. I could tell you a little about the experiences I’m going through and they are not easy to overcome.


Some of us are looking for help to better our lives and the lives of our families. Others will turn to violence because they think it’s right to do so because of their circumstances, or their environment such as living on border-lines dividing ‘war zones’. Some would leave the community if they have alternative living opportunities such as rented accommodation or with friends or family. They have to go because they cannot take it anymore. They are fed up! But there are many who just have to stay. What do they do?

There are some youths loving what is going on – just a few. They like the things they are gaining from the situation. They lack the knowledge and understanding to know they are wrong. They have no one to motivate them in the right way. They are being used but cannot see it. A lot of us have lost friends and families innocently by gunmen and it’s all because of corruption. Everyone running for power because they want to be in control and they cannot even control themselves. In these situations there will always be ‘war’ and rumours of such, leading to confusion – no loyalty – no trust.

When I look at my life now there are those who are trying to motivate me. The Man Up program teaches about how to be a man by starting to change our way of thinking and behaving. It helps to be able to admit that often we have got it wrong.

I want to ask:

How many of us are truthful? How many can accept life for what it is or for what it brings?

There are others as well who are doing so much now to help me believe in myself. I have heard things from them that have changed me a lot. I look at life differently now. I accept life now.