Vienna (Austria), 19 May 2021 – The world today is home to 1.8 billion young people, the largest generation of youth in history. Investing in youth is the key to building a better tomorrow, as their energies, learning abilities and resourcefulness make them great agents of change.
At the same time, youth are particularly vulnerable to crime, violence and drug use. Certain factors at the individual, family, community, and societal levels make them especially likely to participate in crime. For example, low literacy and early school drop-out, weak parenting skills or family distress, the availability of drugs and arms, unemployment and weak rule of law all increase the risk of criminal behaviour.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened many of these risk factors for young people worldwide, from forcing schools to shut down and worsening youth unemployment to impeding the delivery of important health and wellbeing services.
Recognizing the importance of safeguarding young people from crime to enable them to become positive actors of change, UNODC has made the protection, participation and empowerment of youth one of the three cross-cutting commitments of its Strategy for 2021-2025.
Investing in the healthy development of young people is a major component of UNODC’s efforts to prevent youth involvement in crime. For instance, UNODC’s Youth Crime Prevention through Sport (YCP) initiative uses sports and sports-based learning to teach young people key personal and social skills and to engage their communities, helping to create safe public spaces for positive youth development.
Through sports, UNODC reinforces youth and community resilience to crime, even in the middle of the pandemic. An example is the recent partnership with key actors in the sports and youth areas in Peru, which has helped to empower youth with new skills and reinforce their well-being through a series of online events, learning courses and training sessions revolving around sports.
UNODC also mobilizes young people’s families, schools and communities to address the conditions that give rise to antisocial behaviour and crime before they appear.
For instance, in Central America and the Caribbean, UNODC’s Strengthening Families Programme supports parents with children between the ages of 10 and 14 to prevent drug abuse, crime and other risk behaviours in youth.
Reflecting on the significance of this challenge, strengthening youth crime prevention will be the focus of several side events throughout the 30th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice happening this week in Vienna and online.
Young people are our most precious resource to build safer, healthier and more just societies. To enable them to achieve their transformative potential, through the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and beyond, UNODC will continue its efforts to safeguard and empower history’s largest generation of youth.