An Exploration of Factors that Contribute to Drug Use among Dropout Girls in Inner City Communities in Kingston and St. Andrew, Jamaica
Myrie, Sheria C 1985-
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There is a dearth of research on increased drug use among adolescent girls in Jamaica over the last two decades, with lack of specific attention to girls who dropped out of school, and who reside in inner city communities. Theory of planned behaviour, social control and social learning theories have been used to analyse adolescent drug use in general. However, these theories might not fully address the unique situations of urban dropout girls in Jamaica. Using data from semi-structured interviews with 15 dropout girls, this study aims to explore the factors that contribute to drug use—primarily marijuana and tobacco use—among dropout girls in inner city communities in Kingston and St. Andrew, Jamaica. Three questions are posed: 1). What are the attitudes and beliefs of dropout girls in inner city communities in Kingston and St. Andrew about drug use? 2). What is the impact of social contexts on the drug use attitudes, beliefs, and practices of dropout girls in inner city communities in Kingston and St. Andrew? and 3). What is the impact of gender norms and roles on the drug use attitudes, beliefs, and practices of dropout girls in inner city communities in Kingston and St. Andrew? A postcolonial feminist standpoint research approach is used to collect, analyse, and interpret the data. An interpretation of the girls’ dialogues and experiences is carried out to develop relevant programming recommendations. The findings reveal that girls believe that smoking—mainly marijuana and tobacco—helps them to cope with stress and several psychosocial challenges; their social experiences with family neglect and abuse, peer influence, schooling experiences, community violence, and poverty also contribute to their stress and subsequent smoking practices. The findings generally support existing theoretical frameworks, including theory of planned behavior, social control and social learning theories. However, this study finds that Jamaican urban dropout girls’ attitudes and beliefs are shaped by their socially assigned feminine traits and roles, and by interactions with and experiences in their social contexts which are moulded by colonial legacies as well as gender norms and class disparities. Accordingly, I suggest that postcolonial feminism can be used along with existing models to explain the factors that contribute to drug use among dropout girls in inner city communities in Kingston and St. Andrew, Jamaica. Finally, I recommend the development of programs that target the unique factors that influence Jamaican girls to use drugs, in order to reduce drug use and promote the healthy development of girls.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeOgenchuk, Marcella; Hansen, John; Lovrod, Marie
Copyright DateMarch 2017
Drug use, Girls, Dropout, Inner City, Jamaica