Interview by Maria Brindlmayer, Senior KM Specialist, YouthPower Learning, with Tanya Andrade, Task Order Director of the Latin America and the Caribbean - Youth Violence Prevention Project.
During the first year, we have worked on three main activities. First, we have reached out to other stakeholders to help USAID identify their focus. That includes The World Bank, IDB, John Jay College and other researchers, where we want to identify high-quality evidence on what worked or not. USAID is conducting an evidence mapping exercise on programs to prevent violence affecting young people, ages 10-29. The report will be complete later this semester.
Second, we're compiling a catalogue of violence prevention programs USAID has funded in the region since 2010, and USAID-funded research on crime and violence prevention.
Lastly, we've supported and co-sponsored various learning exchanges among professionals, researchers and policymakers in the region.
What have been your key deliverables?
We have created a range of different deliverables, for example, a quantitative study - "Violence, Development, and Emigration: Evidence from Central American Children Detained in the United States” - showing the effects of various types of violent and non-violent crime on international migration decisions in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. We have also participated in several workshops and conferences, and have organized meetings of stakeholders, e.g., the “Focus, Prevention, and Legitimacy in the Context of International Violence” international workshop with the National Networks for Safe Communities at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice; the Medellín Living Lab with USAID, The World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, and the City of Medellín, a week-long experimental learning lab in Colombia; or the Igarapé Institute's exchange on public security and violence prevention interventions in El Salvador, with urban security specialists from government, business and non-governmental sectors in the region.
What are the key findings from your "Violence, Development, and Emigration: Evidence from Central American Children Detained in the United States” study?
The study was motivated by a recent surge in child migration to the U.S. from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and studies the relationship between violence in the Northern Triangle and child migration to the United States. The paper analyzed individual-level, anonymized data on all 178,825 U.S. apprehensions of unaccompanied child migrants from these countries between 2011 and 2016. Three major findings arose:
- The study found that current, persistent increases in homicide rates play a very significant role in a child’s decision to emigrate. One additional homicide per year in the region caused a cumulative total of 3.7 unaccompanied child apprehensions in the U.S.
- As homicide rates increase, UAC apprehension rates also increase, “roughly doubling the [number] of UACs coming from municipalities with a rate of 100 or more homicides per year.”
- When and where there are historically high rates of homicide, it can be expected that there will be future increases of UAC emigration since experiences are shared across social networks.
Besides what you mentioned above, what other surprising findings did the study reveal?
This study also finds that a third of UAC emigrate after former UACs inform, assist, or inspire other UACs to leave. UAC rates were also higher in municipalities with persistently, i.e., longer than three years, high unemployment rates.”
How are you disseminating your findings to the region’s policymakers and practitioners?
We haven't yet finalized our dissemination strategy, and most studies are ongoing and have yet to be completed. In 2017, our team examined past systematic reviews funded by USAID in the LAC region, as well as systematic reviews funded by others focused on the LAC region, plus meta reviews of evaluations of youth violence prevention programs worldwide. Once all analyses are completed, we'll produce a technical report, with infographics and data visualizations to accompany it.
The project team, including AIR, DI and IWPR, are producing three sector-specific briefs, addressing as audiences the sectors of Education, Health, and the Workforce. Gender issues will be a crosscutting theme addressed in each of the three briefs.
Q: What other activities are you working on or planning?
A two- year study on gang desistance (i.e., why youth leave gangs) in Honduras and Guatemala began this February and will extend into 2019. AIR will subcontract with Florida International University (FIU), and data collection firms in each country to conduct the studies. Country Missions are being consulted so that their ideas and concerns are addressed and used to improve the utility of the study. FIU will also contribute to producing technical reports and public-facing policy briefs from the project at interim and endpoints of the two-year study period.
Another partnership with John Jay College of Criminal Justice is conducting a four-month feasibility study on focused deterrence. After training and orientation of the research team, fieldwork in El Salvador will start, supplemented by meetings with key U.S. government officials and experts on El Salvador.
The result will be a report documenting findings, conclusions and recommendations on the possibility of implementing a focused deterrence program in the Salvadorian context.
Have you launched any communities of practice or advisory groups?
There have been several discussions among USAID and the LAC-YVP project team, but no conclusions have been reached yet regarding communities of practice.
How have you incorporated a positive youth development approach in your work, e.g., have you engaged youth in the research and project activities?
Compiling evidence and research is the primary focus of our project during this phase, thus, we’re not able to directly incorporate a positive youth development approach in the same way as we would in an implementation project.[MB1] [CW2] In later phases of the project, we aim to conduct pilot programs and evaluations, which will give us more opportunities to incorporate a PYD approach.
What have been the biggest challenges so far? How have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is finding direct evidence from the LAC region. Currently, there's little evidence that exists on crime prevention programs and their effect on youth violence. Few evaluations have been conducted to verify activities, programs and evidence around crime prevention in the region. Data is scattered, and we need to identify the best way to analyze and organize it for policymakers, implementers, and researchers.
To overcome this, our project is updating the digital archive of literature on youth violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, and working to effectively communicate and disseminate information through knowledge sharing activities, workshops, and specific learning exchanges.
Do you have any recommendations for implementers of youth programs in the Central American region?
It's still early for us to make these suggestions, but:
- Use a positive youth development approach, so you can respond to youth and their needs in a meaningful way.
- Blend economic development activities with violence prevention activities and programs. Our recent study shows this can significantly reduce child emigration from the region.
- Focus on producing quality evidence to help build the evidence base around crime prevention activities and programs in the region, and how they relate to youth violence prevention.
How about recommendations for policymakers in the region?
This year, three policy sector briefs will be published on how violence affects the education, and health sector, and the workforce sectors. Each will deliver specific recommendations for policy makers .
Thank you, Tanya, for sharing your findings and knowledge with our newsletter audience. We look forward to future updates from your project.
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Learning exchanges among professionals, researchers and policymakers in the region supported and co-sponsored by the project:
- A 2017 workshop with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice an Internal Workshop on Violence and Principles of Focused Deterrence, which brought together 45 experts in a forum on crime prevention. The workshop was important to a feasibility study to be conducted in El Salvador. John Jay is drafting a white paper of major discussions.
- LAC-YVP hosted a panel, “What Does the Evidence on Effectiveness Mean?” at the Los Angeles Gang Prevention and Intervention Conference, co-sponsored by USAID and moderated by Yemile Mizrahi, our Technical Director. The objective was to stimulate a deeper understanding of the effectiveness in crime and violence prevention interventions, and what aspects of interventions work, for whom, under what conditions, and in which contexts.
- In January, a workshop with Igarapé Institute created a space for local voices to discuss urban security and related questions. The workshop offered a dialogue among civilians, government specialists, business and non-governmental representatives that live and work in the Northern Triangle. More than 200 people participated. The outcome of this workshop resulted in the exchange of knowledge and information which is crucial to the success of the project. A strategy is currently being drafted to be shared with governments in the United States and in El Salvador.
- A Grants Under Contract Manual - Developed to provide information to managers and staff on regulations and requirements governing the issuance and management of grant monies to other organizations.
- Violence, Development, and Migration Waves: Evidence from Central American child migrant apprehensions – by Michael Clemens, Sr. Research Fellow at the Center for Global Development, and AIR. This quantitative study showed the effects of various types of violent and non-violent crime on international migration decisions in the Northern Triangle (Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador). The study was motivated by a recent surge in child migration to the U.S. from the region that occurred in the context of high rates of violence.
- “Focus, Prevention, and Legitimacy in the Context of International Violence” - An international workshop with the National Networks for Safe Communities at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which brought together 45 participants from around the world to share analyses of and experiences with crime prevention. David Kennedy, the Director of the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC), presented the Focused Deterrence Methodology to assess the feasibility of replicating this methodology in other parts of the world, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Sponsorship and participation in the Los Angeles Gang Prevention and Intervention Conference – In this annual event participants exchanged best practices and lessons learned, we hosted a panel, “What Does the Evidence on Effectiveness Mean?” to stimulate deeper understanding on the significance of effectiveness in crime and violence prevention interventions. What aspects of proven effective interventions work, for whom, under what conditions, and in which contexts? The panel featured Patricia Campie, a Principal Research at AIR who specializes in the juvenile justice, child welfare, and youth development fields, and Stanley Huey, an Associate Professor of Psychology and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. Yemile Mizrahi, Director of Analytical Services at DI moderated.
- Medellín Living Lab - USAID, The World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, and the City of Medellín organized this week-long experimental learning lab in Colombia. The event focused on how the city was able to curtail crime and violence, transforming it to transform from the deadliest city in the world to one of the safest in the region in 29 years. As co-sponsor, USAID invited mayors and ministers from South, Central, and North America and the Caribbean.
- Cali Living Lab 2017 – LAC-YVP arranged for USAID’s invitees to join from Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico. The event provided an opportunity to learn from Cali’s successful interventions in reducing crime and violence.
- The National Network of Safe Communities Conference – LAC-YVP shared information on the project and networked with researchers in order to learn about unpublished research that might be relevant for the ongoing evidence-mapping task.
- USAID/CARSI Technical Meeting - LAC-YVP attended this meeting in El Salvador and presented goals, objectives and request help from implementing partners and Missions for the cataloguing and evidence map tasks.
- Learning Exchanges - Kirk Augustus, manager of the violence reduction unit at Youth for the Future went to Trinidad and Tobago to attend a working group meeting on violence prevention.
- Prosperity and Security in Central America Conference – LAC-YVP sponsored Axel Romero, Vice Minister of Prevention in the Ministry of the Interior for Guatemala, to moderate “Improving Citizen Security,” a USAID panel.
- Igarapé Institute's exchange on public security and violence prevention interventions in El Salvador, with urban security specialists from government, business and non-governmental sectors in the region.