Jamaica’s persistent problem of violent crime has resulted in its regular inclusion in top ten lists of countries with the highest murder rates in the world. The primary source of community violence is related to gangs and youth violence. Traditional crime control measures do not address the underlying causes of violence – broken families and social decay; neglected and abused children; the erosion of moral authority by entrenched systems of lawlessness; and the influence of gang-dominated communities, with bad physical infrastructure, poor education, and limited job opportunities. Greater emphasis on resolving the underlying problems and preventing criminality is needed, rather than just responding to crimes.
The Community Violence Prevention (CVP) activity in Jamaica aims to support communities, parents, and families to prevent youth violence and develop pathway programs for youth at risk of violence. Making Cents International will support Democracy International in working with communities and strengthening the ability and authority of targeted families to maintain discipline and reinforce prosocial conduct among their children and supporting desistance programs that will keep youth out of violent and criminal lifestyles.
To that end, Making Cents will focus on providing technical expertise in the areas of workforce development, livelihoods support, gender, and positive youth development (PYD). To support CVP’s workforce development programming, we will conduct an upfront assessment of local Jamaican workforce development programs and youth employers to ascertain how effectively the programs are preparing youth for private-sector jobs. We will use our Demand-Driven Training (DDT) Framework to analyze to what extent programs are customized to respond directly to specific requirements of a job role for an employer or a group of employers. Based on assessment findings, we will help these programs better align their trainings with employers’ needs, leveraging the tools and approaches contained within our DDT for Youth Employment Toolkit. On the employer side, we will guide employers on partnering with DDT programs to identify and screen qualified youth for positions and will support them in developing work-based learning opportunities, such as internships and apprenticeships, as well as in-house mentoring programs to ensure young people receive adequate support, especially during the first months on the job.
To provide livelihood support to youth, we will provide family-based economic strengthening classes in communities that have little access to such resources. Classes will include components on financial literacy and decision-making skills to help households increase savings and for entrepreneurship to introduce additional avenues to generate income. Our team will provide technical assistance to local organizations to develop and deliver the curriculum. We will also use our Youth Financial Services Assessment tool to understand the level of youth inclusion at individual financial institutions based on each institution’s market segmentation and analysis abilities, understanding of the market, staff capacity, and products offered. Based on the assessment, we will develop a plan to work with the institutions’ staff throughout the market research, product development, pilot, and roll-out phases.
We will also conduct a gender analysis of the operating context and of the CVP activities to ensure inclusivity and effective gender mainstreaming. To help the project fully embrace PYD, we will facilitate PYD trainings for staff and project stakeholders, including representatives of relevant government of Jamaica agencies, law enforcement officials, and community organizations. We will also build the capacity of CVP staff to offer PYD trainings to project stakeholders in the future using a step-down training of trainers methodology.