Mexico has experienced significant increases in crime and violence in recent years, adversely affecting the country’s security and economic growth, with an especially detrimental effect on youth. Much of the crime and violence is driven by criminal organizations battling to fill the vacuum left by the deterioration of large cartels. Violence and rapid urbanization, particularly in Mexico’s northern border cities, have contributed to increased crime rates, recruitment of youth into criminal organizations, and threaten the security and well-being of citizens.
USAID is focused on preventing at-risk youth in the most violence-affected cities, especially on the border, from turning to crime and potentially joining organized criminal groups. The priorities for USAID are strengthening local authorities’ commitment to tackle this challenge, increasing civil society organizations’ programming capacity and continuing the engagement of the private sector in violence prevention. USAID targets youth in three stages: at-risk youth as mentioned above, youth who have already committed misdemeanors and youth in juvenile detention centers. USAID supports local actors in employing proven approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, crime prevention through environmental design, community courts oriented to provide prompt, transparent and expedite solutions to community conflicts, and targeting the most at-risk individuals for a sustained reduction in crime and violence. USAID collaborates with government, civil society, academia, and private sector in 14 target municipalities to promote locally-led prevention programs, build community cohesion, and improve job opportunities for at-risk youth.