Youth/Citizen Security

Speeches Shim

Program Overview

Youth unemployment in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean is at acute levels ranging from 20 – 40%. This contributes to increasing disillusionment, marginalization, and social dysfunction. Coupled with concerning levels of illiteracy and increased drug trafficking, youth are at higher risk for involvement in crime and violence. Reducing crime and violence is a high priority for citizens and governments in the region.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), supports citizen security, youth development, and juvenile justice programs that benefit youth (ages 10–29) at risk for involvement in crime and violence. Some may have already been in conflict with the law, while others may be at risk after dropping out of school, facing dysfunctional families and disengaged parents, and suffering from domestic violence and/or substance abuse.

USAID’s multifaceted approach targets the multiple levels of a country’s systems that affect youth: the policies of the country (national and local); the institutions of the justice system (police, courts and prisons); the education system; and the communities and families where at-risk youth live.

USAID takes a Positive Youth Development approach where youth are both beneficiaries and active participants in their development. Through a range of interventions, USAID supports alternative pathways for Caribbean youth away from crime and violence and toward productive participation in the community and economy. USAID delivers an integrated program that includes family counseling; connects youth with positive role models; assists youth to develop employability skills; delivers structured sport, recreational, and cultural activities; and builds community resilience to confront insecurity.

USAID also ensures that secondary and post-secondary graduates have the academic, technical, and life skills necessary to enter the labor market or continue further education.

An integral aspect of USAID’s approach is promoting evidence-based decision-making so that crime and violence data underpins prevention policy and programming, while shifting the focus of the juvenile justice system from punishment to rehabilitation and reintegration.


  • Engage youth and local stakeholders to define problems, identify risk factors, and create local solutions
  • Reduce risk factors and increase protective factors facing at-risk youth while developing targeted  interventions based on individuals’ levels of risk
  • Deliver family counselling, mentoring, and psychosocial support to at-risk youth
  • Provide technical, life skills, and employability training to improve opportunities for at-risk youth
  • Build the capacity of institutions that support at-risk youth
  • Host recreational and cultural events to strengthen youth resilience and build community identity
  • Expand the focus on basic education as a key prevention strategy
  • Promote diversion and alternative sentencing options to reduce number of youth held in detention 
  • Ensure detention centers and diversion programs provide support services to foster rehabilitation
  • Facilitate the reintegration of youth into their families and communities post-detention
  • Enhance stakeholders’ ability to capture and analyze standardized crime data at the community, national, and regional levels to enhance decision-making around youth violence
  • Host annual events to highlight evidence-based approaches and promote knowledge transfer relative to youth crime and violence reduction in the region and globally
  • Document and share successful models and solutions to reduce youth crime, violence, and recidivism rates across the region

2010 – 2014 Strategy

Skills and Knowledge for Youth Employment (SKYE) Project (Guyana)

SKYE helps to reduce youth crime by expanding employment, education, and skill-building opportunities for at-risk youth and addressing juvenile justice issues. It expands the use of alternative sentencing, supports reintegration and rehabilitation and provides life/work skills training, counselling and coaching activities for over 2,000 youth, ages 15-24, in five geographic regions. Ends: December 15, 2016.

Kari Yu Project (Suriname)

Kari Yu! facilitates youth access to employment, vocational education and related opportunities, focusing on early school leavers. It also supports the development of a juvenile justice system that is responsive to the rehabilitative needs of youth. Project activities include training, mentorship and internship opportunities for at-risk youth and capacity building for public sector ministries that provide services to youth (including youth who are in conflict with the law), private sector agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Ends: October 31, 2016

Juvenile Court Project (JCP) (Trinidad)

The JCP initiative brings together the Judiciary, UNDP, and USAID/ESC to support the successful implementation of enacted Children’s Legislation through capacity building and reforms to critical aspects of the juvenile justice system. The program established two pilot juvenile courts, promotes innovative youth peer resolution mechanisms, and introduces a restorative justice approach to managing youth in conflict with the law. Ends: April 22, 2017.

2015 – 2019 Strategy

Community, Family, and Youth Resilience (CFYR) Program

The CFYR program builds youth resilience to create pathways away from crime for youth aged 10-29 and toward productive participation in the community and economy. The program will target up to 15 communities across Guyana, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts and Nevis. CFYR uses the public health model for crime and violence prevention to define the local crime problem; target interventions to address risk and protective factors facing target communities and at-risk youth, and then, test and adjust interventions to ensure impact, sharing results to build a broad evidence-base on how to reduce youth crime and violence in the region. The program matches youth with interventions based on their level of risk, and these interventions will seek to increase their protective factors or “resilience.” It uses a community-based approach that engages youth and local stakeholders in defining problems, identifying risk and protective factors, and creating local solutions, using available data and evidence. CFYR will build the capacity of service providers to administer risk-screening tools and to deliver quality services that meet identified needs in collaboration with communities and families, and through partnerships with the government and private sector. As part of crime and violence reduction efforts, CFYR will use community crime and violence prevention plans that strengthen crime and violence observatories to better understand the growing violence problem, connect the community to the police and other service providers to promote efforts to respond to the problem, and build linkages with the private sector to support youth employment. CFYR will undertake discrete juvenile justice reform activities in Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Guyana, and Barbados. CFYR will also host annual events to highlight evidence-based approaches to youth crime and violence reduction in the region for the ten ESC countries. Ends: September 30, 2020.

CARISECURE (Strengthened Evidence-Based Decision-Making)

The goal of the CARISECURE activity is to improve youth crime and violence policy-making and programming in the Southern and Eastern Caribbean through the use of quality, comparable, and reliable national citizen security information. It is expected that by 2020, target countries will use evidence-based decision making to develop and approve policies and programs supported with national budgetary allocations, which effectively target youth crime and violence risk factors, thereby contributing to the reduction of youth involvement in crime and violence. The information generated will target a wide range of decision makers including security services (e.g., police); social services (e.g., youth, education, health, welfare); the justice sector (e.g., magistrates); media; government, academic and private sector researchers to inform policy, budgeting and programming; and, at the local level, youth, families, communities, service providers, advocates, and other local stakeholders. This activity will work in all ten ESC countries with its initial focus being on St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and Guyana to support USAID's Community Focused activity. Ends: September 30, 2020.

OECS Juvenile Justice Reform Program II (JJRP II)

Building on JJRP I, JJRP II strengthens juvenile justice systems to promote the rehabilitation and reintegration of youth in conflict with the law back into society. JJRP II supports efforts to: (1) increase the use of alternatives to custodial sentences; (2) ensure detention centers and diversion programs provide support services to foster rehabilitation; (3) facilitate the reintegration of youth leaving detention facilities back into their families and communities; and (4) document and share successful models and solutions to reduce youth recidivism rates across the region. JJRP II targets youth aged 18 and below who are in conflict with the law (i.e., who have committed offences for which they could be prosecuted under the existing legislative framework) in Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia & St. Vincent and the Grenadines. JJRP II works with a wide variety of stakeholders including multiple Ministries in each country, communities, NGOs, and the private sector. This program will introduce and implement a number of reform measures that, taken together, will result in more modernized systems of youth justice in the Caribbean region and will involve the updating of laws, regulations, policies, and protocols for the treatment of youth in-conflict with the law. Ends: September 30, 2020.