Photo: At Risk Youth in Costa Rica
Costa Rica will support children and youth at risk for criminal activities, rehabilitate people in conflict with the law, and strengthen the institutional capacity of the country’s police force through a violence prevention program partly financed by a $132.4 million loan approved by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
The program will also support the creation of an agency to manage knowledge on violence prevention, the first of its kind in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Citizen security is a major concern for Costa Ricans, and their government has made it a priority to address the issue before it becomes a threat to governance and the economy.
Costa Rica had a rate of 11.6 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009. But while this rate is the lowest in Central America, it has been steadily rising. The homicide rate increased 33.3 percent from 2004 to 2006 and 37.5 percent from 2007 to 2009.
The program will impact 39 percent of the vulnerable population in seven cantons―Desamparados, Pococí, Heredia, Santa Cruz, Puntarenas, Cartago, and Alajuela― where social prevention activities for children and youth at risk will be developed.
The program will focus on the following activities:
Children and youth at risk: The program will focus on children and youth who have dropped out of school and who have not completed high school.
Social reintegration for people in conflict with the law: The program will fund training and the treatment of addiction for people within the country’s institutional and semi-institutional system. This includes the design, construction, and equipping of educational and vocational centers, whose business plans will be designed to meet local economic and training needs; the centers will be accredited by the National Learning Institute.
Strengthening institutional capacity: The program will also support measures to increase the effectiveness of the national police force, including construction of the police academy and the development of its curriculum.