Countries around the world are grappling with the many harmful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including health and socio-economic impacts. Peru is one of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean most severely affected by COVID-19 in terms of public health outcomes. The social and economic impact is also considerable, and young people are extremely vulnerable to the disruptions the pandemic has caused, with major effects on their education, economic opportunities, and well-being. Many of the hardships faced by young people during the COVID-19 crisis are also known risk factors associated with crime, violence and drug use, and may expose youth to increased risks for victimization and involvement with crime during and after the pandemic.
When international experts gathered at UNODC's headquarters in Vienna back in 2016 to develop a sport-based intervention that would help reduce youth crime and drug use, the guiding principle was that it had to be informed by existing evidence on what did and did not work. Building on this, and recognizing the evidence about the benefits of developing life skills among youth, UNODC created the Line Up Live Up curriculum. A first for UNODC, this 10-session programme combined sports activities with life skills training for youth aged 13 to 18. Some four years later, the programme has now been piloted in 12 countries worldwide, building life skills among more than 13,000 youth and working with 900-plus trainers.
Across the world, COVID-19 has changed all aspects of our daily lives. The closure of schools; the loss of employment; the social distancing measures - these, and more, have had has vast consequences on all members of society, including those children and their families who were already living in precarious situations.
In a bid to tackle the negative longer-term impact on social and behavioural development in youth, UNODC has been working in Tajikistan to help young people better cope with new realities. Over the past months, a series of training events for teachers, parents and youth have both been rolled out to promote an understanding of the benefits of sport in building life skills and pro-social behaviour.
Recognizing the value of sports in advancing peace and development, UNODC's Regional Office for Central Asia (ROCA) this week launched a new outreach campaign designed to build youth resilience towards drugs, crime and violence. Developed in partnership with Uzbekistan's National Olympic Committee as well as Government authorities and other UN entities, the new campaign - 'I Choose Sport' - is centred around a series of social-focussed videos and features several Uzbek sports champions as positive role models for the country's youth.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to the disruptions the COVID-19 pandemic has caused, with many at risk of being left behind in education, economic opportunities, and health and wellbeing during a crucial stage of their life development. Over one billion children and youth, or 60 per cent of all enrolled learners, are affected by school closures, and poverty and unemployment rates due to COVID-19 have increased dramatically.
Many of these hardships are also known risk factors associated with crime, violence, and drug use, and may expose youth to increased victimization and involvement with crime during and after the pandemic.