The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a $5 million loan to help reduce juvenile crime in Belize by tackling violent behavior at school, encouraging positive behaviors in youth from broken homes, improving the effectiveness of rehabilitation for juveniles, and enhancing the government’s ability to devise and implement public safety policies.
Crime has been rising dramatically in the country over the past few years, with nearly half the violent offenses taking place in Belize City, on whose South side the program will focus its efforts. Furthermore, 60 percent of the Belizean population is under 29 years of age, making crime predominantly a youth problem.
The program will tackle this situation through three components:
- School-based Positive Youth Development: This component will seek to boost learning and secondary education completion rates and foster positive behavior patterns among students and unattached youth in vulnerable communities. To this end, it will finance the design and implementation of a school-based Positive Youth Development Initiative for more than 1,000 primary and secondary school students and their parents. The loan will also fund infrastructure, the purchase of equipment, and didactic materials and the hiring of consulting and other services.
- Juvenile Social Rehabilitation Support: This module will strive to improve prospects of at-risk youth and juvenile offenders’ social reintegration (an average of 270 per year) by reducing violent attitudes and improving basic and vocational education levels at the three national rehabilitation centers: the Youth Cadet Corps, the Youth Hostel, and the Wagner Youth Facility. The resources will finance technical assistance, training, infrastructure improvements and upgrades, and equipment and materials acquisition.
- Interagency Public Safety Management Information System: This system will be established within the Information Technology Center under the Prime Minister Office’s oversight and will gather, share, and analyze information to promote interagency coordination and provide elements for making decisions and formulating and managing anti-crime strategies. It will include an open website with basic public safety indicators as well as an intranet with more in-depth information and classified data for decision makers. The funds will help hire consultants, support connectivity among participating agencies for information exchange, purchase data compiling and processing equipment, and train professional and technical personnel.
The Bank’s loan is for a 25-year term, with a four-year grace period, at a variable interest rate based on Libor.
- Mildred Rivera