Tackling Crime and Violence in Latin America with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Tackling Crime and Violence in Latin America with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

According to panelists and evidence presented at a two-day workshop organized by USAID and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in Mexico City, an effective strategy to prevent crime and violence is slowing down the decision-making process of youth in high-stake situations.  Evidence suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can reduce violent and criminal behavior, therefore, programs that draw on CBT can help at-risk men and youth reduce self-destructive behaviors.

The participants in these programs are taught to evaluate and modify the way they think and make decisions. CBT can provide methods to help the individuals improve their self-image and provide strategies to avoid impulsive actions. These programs can be a cost-effective policy option since they are targeted, short-term, and can be facilitated by non-experts.

The workshop provided an opportunity for implementers of CBT programs and similar interventions to learn from the Becoming a Man (BAM) in Chicago and Sustainable Transformation of Youth in Liberia cases, both which used the CBT methods successfully. The workshop also aimed to address and learn from open research questions that policymakers need answered to implement CBT interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean. Implementers and researches from the region discussed their experiences and challenges in CBT programs. 

CBT provides a different approach to the current high cost efforts to reduce crime and violence in the region. Critics are concerned that this type of intervention occurs too late in an individual’s life (late adolescence and early adulthood), however, evidence demonstrates otherwise.

Below you can find the link to the original J-PAL article and a J-PAL bulletin with key results and practices of the CBT programs mentioned.

Country:- NA
Institution:Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)
Author:Isabel Mejía Fontanot

Kirssy GonzálezKirssy González

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