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Community-based Strategies to Reduce Youth Violence

The growing population of youth in developing countries is often seen as a threat to stability, and indeed, youth have often been protagonists in social and political unrest. Youth violence has often been considered a result of unemployment or idleness, leading to blanket responses providing (mostly temporary) employment for youth. These programs have often limited success because they do not address the complex driving factors for youth violence or the intergenerational tensions that reinforce stigma against youth.

My talk will give an overview of what the World Bank has learned through our growing investment in youth-oriented projects, especially those with a violence prevention focus. I will describe how the Bank's general approach to youth is evolving from a focus on (mostly temporary) employment toward more integrated interventions that address the various drivers of youth exclusion and violence, as well as intergenerational tensions that reinforce stigma against youth. While evidence on impact is still scarce, there are indications of some promising practices, especially when targeted activities are combined with interventions to address underlying structural factors.