Childhood Adversity, Misperceptions, and Gang Recruitment
TWCF Number
2021-20705
Project Duration
January 21 / 2022
- January 20 / 2024
Core Funding Area
Individual Freedom and Free Markets
Region
South America
Amount Awarded
$233,928

* A Grant DOI (digital object identifier) is a unique, open, global, persistent and machine-actionable identifier for a grant.

Director
Santiago Tobón
Institution Universidad EAFIT

In the late 20th century, civil wars posed the most severe dangers of violence victimization and recruitment worldwide. In the 21st century, however, civil wars are waning in size and number, and it is expected that more of the world’s violence and recruitment will come from organized crime. In Medellin, Colombia, the location of this study, levels of gang violence frequently exceed even the most intense civil wars.

Gangs exploit misinformed youth, providing false information, manipulating poorly informed children, and compelling recruits to take actions that make it difficult to leave the gang. Without unbiased details, it is impossible to make free and informed decisions. It is possible to correct children’s beliefs, counter misinformation, and enhance the individual freedom of the most vulnerable youth.

This project will collect data to understand gang recruitment and help design, run, and evaluate interventions. The initiative will build the first system of its kind in Medellin for tracking and supporting youth at risk. Predictive models of high-risk behavior will be developed using historical data to identify a cohort of 11-14 year-old boys. They will be interviewed and tracked over time. Data will be gathered first-hand on children’s beliefs about alternative careers, including financial returns, other benefits, risk perceptions, personal preferences, family background, and childhood adversity. Work will proceed closely with implementing partners, schools, and city agencies, to develop and run these interventions.

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