The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development envisions bringing benefits to all people, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized. In terms of Member States efforts to provide safety and security to all, special attention must be paid to children and youth as they are particularly vulnerable to drug use, crime and victimization, including gang-related crime, violent extremism and sexual exploitation. In efforts to prevent delinquent behavior among young people experts point to the effectiveness of developmental or early prevention. This means investing in the healthy development of children and young people, and to mobilize individuals, families, schools or communities to address the conditions that give rise to antisocial behaviour and crime before they appear. Developmental prevention initiatives typically target different levels of the ecology of human development and focus, for example, on parenting and early child support, anti-bullying initiatives, or individual and social skills training.
Although youth face many challenges that make them particularly vulnerable to crime, violence and victimization, it is important to remember that, by virtue of their age, energies and learning abilities, young people are key agents of change in creating a better future and have great potential to advocate on behalf of themselves and their communities. Carefully targeted projects which actively involve youth, especially those living in the most vulnerable communities, in decision making, education and skills training (including through sports), entrepreneurship and job creation, can build resilience by providing youth with alternative lifestyles to drug and gang involvement.
UNODC has recently placed more emphasis on addressing youth crime in its efforts to support the implementation of the “Doha Declaration“. More specifically, the Office:
Supports the development of youth crime prevention strategies and action plans
Promotes the use of evidence-based youth crime prevention programmes and best practice, in particular in the area of developmental prevention
Encourages locally-based initiatives to help young people at risk of offending or re-offending and strengthen their resilience to crime, including through education and social and individual skills training and the use of sport and sport-based learning.
United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (the Riyadh Guidelines), (General Assembly resolution 45/112, annex)
United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Crime (Economic and Social Council resolution 2002/13, annex).
Recent CCPCJ/GA resolutions:
ECOSOC resolution 2016/18, “Mainstreaming holistic approaches to youth crime prevention”
General Assembly resolution 74/170 “Integrating sport into youth crime prevention and criminal justice strategies”INSPIRE
UNODC worked with international experts to develop an evidence-informed, sport-based life skills training programme called Line Up Live Up. The programme aims to address risk factors associated with crime, violence and substance use, such as poor behavioural control. The theory of change behind the programme asserts that, by building cognitive, emotional and social skills among youth, and increasing knowledge on the consequences of crime and substance use, it will also strengthen pro-social attitudes and ultimately pro-social behaviour.
The Line Up Live Up curriculum includes a 10-session manual and additional materials available in several languages to assist coaches, trainers, and others working with young people to deliver life skills training to youth aged 13 – 18 years. Working in close partnership with multiple actors at the national and local level, UNODC implements Line Up Live Up in a variety of settings, including schools, community centres, sport clubs and juvenile facilities.
Through the Line Up Live Up programme, sports coaches, teachers and others working with youth in sports settings wee able to target valuable life skills, such as resisting social pressures to engage in delinquency, coping with anxiety and communicating effectively with peers, through a set of interactive and fun exercises.
The training programme was implemented as part of the Doha Declaration Global Programme until September 2021 in fourteen countries across the world, ranging from Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East to Latin America and the Caribbean.
The 2020 UNODC report ‘Youth Crime Prevention through Sport: Insights from the UNODC Line Up Live Up pilot programme’ analyses the quantitative and qualitative data collected from routine monitoring and evaluation tools, including youth and trainer surveys, in 11 countries and selected process and impact assessments studies conducted by UNODC. The report places key findings and lessons learned in the context of relevant research on the use of sport for youth violence and crime prevention and provides recommendations on effecting programming and integration of sport in crime prevention and criminal justice frameworks.
Violent extremism disproportionately affects young people who often find themselves in a precarious socio-economic position, perceived as both perpetrators and victims of political violence and violent extremism acts. Children and youth are especially vulnerable, as they are considered to be more easily coerced, controlled and indoctrinated by terrorist and violent extremist groups. Young people in particular may be drawn to radical and violent movements through purposeful manipulation techniques and various socialization processes, often facilitated by personal, emotional or psychological factors, such as alienation, uncertainty, a search for identity and respect.
Young people are also important as change-makers and peacebuilders. To effectively prevent violent extremism and strengthen social cohesion, the provision of adequate assistance to youth and their meaningful engagement and participation is considered vital. Sport has long been considered a valuable tool for development and peace fostering communications, resiliency, inclusion and building bridges between communities in conflict.
Efforts to prevent and counter violent extremism have sought increasingly to engage youth, communities, and marginalized groups through sport-based intervention that can serve as an effective platform to address the ideologies and root causes of violent extremism.
The Secretary -General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism calls for a series of measures aimed at building a culture of tolerance and resilience to violence, addressing marginalization and promoting social cohesion, including by empowering youth through education, participation and the learning of new skills.
To respond to these requests, UNODC developed a Technical Guide and other guidance materials on using sport as a tool to increase important life skills, safety, resilience and empowerment to prevent violent extremism among youth. The Technical Guide can be used to support existing programmes and design a specific theory of change and activities within established PVE programmes or sports-based interventions to address risk and protective factors and strengthen young people’s resilience to radicalization and violent extremism. Using these guidance materials as a basis, and in cooperation with relevant partners, UNODC provides technical assistance to Member States to prevent violent extremism among youth.