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STOP THE VIOLENCE IN LATIN AMERICA: A Look at Prevention from Cradle to Adulthood

Laura Chioda

  • 9 March 2018
  • Posted by: Nicolas Devia
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STOP THE VIOLENCE IN LATIN AMERICA: A Look at Prevention from Cradle to Adulthood

While studying violence in Latin America there seems to be a paradox: even when there has been an important progress in the reduction of poverty and inequality, violence and crime continue to be on the surge. Violence and crime are not just the result of economic conditions, but also the combination of genetic, environmental, psychological and social aspects that condition individuals to a path of illegality. “STOP THE VIOLENCE IN LATIN AMERICA: A Look at Prevention from Cradle to Adulthood” reports on the evidences that previous experiences have gathered in the management of the mentioned causes of criminality.

 Impact of economic conditions on crime and violence
 Development is not related to a decrease in criminality, on the contrary, economic development could lead to an increase in crime as the same criminal activities represent more benefits.
 Economic development increases the sense of insecurity as citizens expand their areas of interest, even when they are not touched directly by violence or crime.
 Inequality at an aggregated level does not predict violence. Violence occurs when and individual feels segregated (i.e. a poor young man living in a well-to do neighborhood is more prone to engage in incivilities)
 Employment is not a substitute for crime, the two can be used as complements when the individual receives a low wage for his/her job. Nevertheless, youth unemployment is indeed related to homicide rate (early exposure to the market has an impact on the adolescent social and psychological environment)
 The evolution of formal markets means also the evolution of the illegal ones. Improvements on infrastructure reduce the costs of transaction of illegal goods, as it broadens as well the demand for them.
 Economic development could mean a decrease of the parent’s quantity and quality of time shared with his/her children, therefore allowing possible anti-social behaviors.
 Violence and crime prevention policies are more rentable than violence and crime reaction policies. It is economically rational to focus on the first set of policies. However, it is politically rational to focus on the second set.
 Urban intervention per se does not have an impact on crime and violence, but it does on the cohesion of communities and the construction of the social fabric.

 Impact of geography on crime and violence
 Violence is very local, it can be traced to specific neighborhoods and streets.
 Violence and crime occur near where both the offender and the victim live.
 Crime is constant in time and spreads geographically.
 Policies that use hot-spot policing strategies are more effective on reducing crime than policies that use broken-windows or quick-response policing.

 Impact of age on crime and violence.
 Adolescents and young adults are more prone to engage and be victims of criminal and violent activities. Their chances of being involved in illegal activities decrease as they grow up.
 Married individuals look for better strategies to stay safe as costs of engaging in criminal activities increase.
 Policies that provide opportunities for adolescents to remain in schools have a negative impact on crime and violence in the future (crime decreases). This could be accompanied with a positive impact on bullying and school violence (bullying increases).
 Early exposure to the market means an opportunity for adolescents to meet offenders and to enter into illegal activities, even when they are engaged in a licit job.
 The incarceration of young adults could mean the expansion of the individual’s network of criminal associates, rather than an opportunity of resocialization.

 Impact of social conditions on crime and violence.
 Trust in the institutions is imperative for the reduction of victimization and perception of insecurity rates. Police bribes for example increase the probability of crime.
 Perceptions of insecurity are based on subjective parameters, rather than objective ones.
 Communities adapt to violence when it is constant along time. Communities of neighborhoods with high rates of violence could feel safer than individuals of safe neighborhoods that have recently had a small increase of violence.
 African American individuals have a higher chance of being victims of violence than white individuals.
 Chronic offenders account for the majority of crimes and violent acts.
 Policies of conditioned cash transferences show a certain degree of effectiveness in reducing crime and violence.
 Policies of prenatal home visitation improve the chances of the baby to be born without cognitive or physical conditions linked with antisocial behaviors.
 Crime-prevention policies are more likely to root in well-established communities, while in vulnerable communities this work is more difficult and will take a relevant amount of time and resources.
 A well balanced diet has a positive impact on the person’s ability to control himself/herself and to abide to norms and laws.
 Schools constitute a unique targeting opportunity as they reunite the most vulnerable population (young-low income men).

 Impact of gender on crime and violence
 Men are less concerned with safety, even when they are the most affected by crime and violence.
 

Category:Publications
Country:United States of America
Language:English
Year:2016
Institution:World Bank Group
Author:Laura Chioda

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