Turning Away from MS-13 and al-Shabaab
Analyzing youth resilience in Honduras and North East Kenya
This study compares multiple resiliency factors (individual, caregiver, context) displayed by youth who are participating in international donor‐funded youth development programs implemented by Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), in Central America (Honduras) and the Horn of Africa (North East Kenya), two regions that suffer from high levels of violence in communities.
In Honduras, gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) plague vulnerable neighborhoods, while alongthe border of Kenya and Somalia, extremist groups such as al-Shabaab both terrorize and stigmatize the predominantly ethnic Somali local population.This study used a combination of interviews and focus groups and the application of the Child and Youth Resilience Measure (CYRM-28, developed by the Resilience Research Centre) with a small sample in both regions.
Findings in both regions showed a surprisingly high level of resilience among youth who are enrolled in programs implemented by EDC and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Overall, females scored higher than males in Honduras and lower than males in North East Kenya. Honduran youth noted the important and positive role of the church and strong community cohesion, and females in particular were proud of their neighborhoods and keen to help other youth. Honduran respondents were gravely concerned with gangs, organized crime groups, and general insecurity in their communities. North East Kenyan youth noted significant pride in the Somali cultural and religious heritage, but they also acknowledged that differences in beliefs and attitudes have led to clashes.
- The data collected for this study show strong similarities in resiliency factors between youth in gang-affected neighborhoods in Honduras and youth in communities in North East Kenya affected by violent extremism.
- There are also significant commonalities between the push and pull factors that drive youth to orient with violent groups. Gang and criminal violence have not been closely compared with violent extremism, yet membership and victimization patterns are similar.