Cielo Vista

Costa Rica takes cues from Latin American youth outreach projects

August 20, 2010

 

The administration of President Laura Chinchilla this week took pointers from programs working to bring Latin America’s marginalized young people into the fold with better opportunities.
 
At the Costa Rican Child Welfare Office’s auditorium in San José early this week, the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) presented three programs that U.N. experts consider exemplary models for steering at-risk youths away from drugs and crime.
 
These problems are on the Chinchilla administration’s radar as the country gets further cornered into a deadly drug-trafficking corridor and as the nation’s prisons continue to overflow.
 
“We don’t want our young people to stay in jail forever, nor do we want them to be in the drug network forever, so we’re confident that with our proposals and the help that ECLAC is offering us we will be able to apply a successful program,” Chinchilla said at the presentation.
 
The Argentine Support System for Protected Adolescents provides scholarships and tutoring for juvenile offenders. Guatemala’s Ceiba Group Association and Colombia’s Fénix Program work to keep young people out of gangs, offering education, vocational training and other guidance toward leading a straight life.
 
U.N. experts and Costa Rican government officials agree that programs such as these mark a critical departure from traditional, iron-fist methods of dealing with marginalized young people – and they could even be more effective.
 
The “punish the bad kids” model has failed, said María Elisa Bernal, a social development expert at the Santiago, Chile-based ECLAC. “Nobody’s saying there shouldn’t be policing of citizens’ behavior. But the use of repression, repression alone, with these youths is not going to get results, as has been thoroughly demonstrated in (the countries these projects come from),” Bernal told The Tico Times. “They break the law, get caught, break the law again, get caught again, but what’s society offering for them to get ahead?”
 
After researching more than 30 social innovation projects across Latin America, Adolfo Rodríguez, Chinchilla’s social welfare secretary, perceives holes in Costa Rican policies toward the young.
 
Rodríguez said Costa Rica has made strides in health, rights, laws and economic productivity; “however, our crucial weakness lies in our work with youth.”
Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Ballet Festival 2019 part of Costa Rica’s flourishing dance scene
Arts & Culture
38 views
Arts & Culture
38 views

Ballet Festival 2019 part of Costa Rica’s flourishing dance scene

Jacob Spetzler - May 24, 2019

A convergence of international ballet classes, performances and meetings manifests this week in the form of the Costa Rican Festival…

Tico wins gold medal at Para Athletics Grand Prix
Costa Rica
16 views
Costa Rica
16 views

Tico wins gold medal at Para Athletics Grand Prix

Alejandro Zúñiga - May 24, 2019

When Sherman Güity lost part of his left leg after a traffic accident in 2017, he pledged to return to…

USNS Comfort mission to stop in Costa Rica this year
Costa Rica
34 views
Costa Rica
34 views

USNS Comfort mission to stop in Costa Rica this year

Alejandro Zúñiga - May 24, 2019

Costa Rica will receive the USNS Comfort, a United States Navy hospital ship, as part of the vessel's five-month medical…

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!