What Works to Prevent Lethal Youth Violence in the LAC Region
A Global Review of the Research
The Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region contains some of the highest rates of interpersonal and community-based violence in the world, accounting for one-third of all homicides despite being home to less than 10 percent of the world’s population. El Salvador, Jamaica, and Venezuela have the highest homicide rates in the region, exceeding 50 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2017, with some municipal homicide rates in these countries exceeding 130 deaths per 100,000 persons. That said, the region is not without hope. For example, once known as the murder capital of the world in the 1980s and 1990s Colombia’s homicide rate was roughly equivalent to the city of Chicago in 2017 (24 in Colombia compared to 24.1 in Chicago) and was lower than the homicide rate in 15 other cities in the United States during that year.
The fact that Colombia has been able to make improvements in community safety demonstrates that violence can be reduced, although there is an incomplete understanding of the most effective ways in which to do so in the Latin American context. The most recent effort to document evidence generated from the region found a paucity of rigorous research on intervention effectiveness, leaving policymakers to look to other regions of the world for reliable evidence to guide their prevention planning. To address this need, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) hired the American Institutes for Research (AIR), in collaboration with Democracy International (DI,) to conduct an evidence mapping and gap analysis under the Latin America and the Caribbean Youth Violence Prevention Task Order. This report provides an assessment of the global evaluation evidence from interventions that directly or indirectly aim to prevent violence that affects youth, which is defined by USAID as persons 10–29 years of age.