The Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, with the support of the European Union released the findings from their newest study titled: “Testing, Testing: Challenges to Measuring Social Programmes for At-Risk Youth”. The study, spearheaded by lead researcher, Ms Joanna Callen, looked at some of the major intervention programmes implemented over the years, aimed at addressing the country’s age-old problem of crime and violence. Using a qualitative approach, the research sought to secure a better understanding of “what works” in anti-violence interventions targeting at-risk youth, with the hope of providing recommendations to bridge any identified gaps in these and other intervention programme designs, with particular regard to monitoring and evaluation.
Victims and Perpetrators
The main victims and perpetrators of violence are young males from volatile, socio-economically challenged communities. These young men are generally unemployed (in the formal sector), undereducated, and under 35 years old. Between 2013 and 2018, males under 35 years old represented 76 per cent of all perpetrators arrested and charged with a category one crime, even though they currently only represent 20 per cent of the island’s population. Efforts to stem violence and lower the murder rate have been underway for several decades and take two broad forms: crime prevention and crime control.
Crime prevention efforts largely take the form of interventions that aim to increase the protective factors and reduce the risk factors that are thought to contribute to or correlate with crime and violence. An incalculable number of such interventions have been implemented in communities across the island over the past three-plus decades, some on million-dollar budgets.
Despite the financial investments over the last several decades however, the extent to which these interventions are effective, is for the most part, questionable. There has been no noticeable or sustained impact on the country’s high rates of crime and violence. CAPRI’s launch event facilitated a deep dissection of the discoveries of the study with the lead researcher, Ms Callen, who was joined by The Honourable Dr Horace Chang, Minister of National Security and Professor Anthony Clayton, Professor of Caribbean Sustainable Development at the Institute for Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies, Mona. The discussion was moderated by CAPRI’s Director of Research, Dr Diana Thorburn, and streamed on the thinktank’s YouTube channel at 8:00 PM sharp.