Addressing Youth Violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador

Violence targeting and involving youth is one of Central America's most pressing problems. Research will evaluate existing and propose new strategies to prevent youth violence in the region's northern triangle - El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Murder rates in the northern triangle average 52 per 100,000 citizens, more than double the rest of Latin America (25 per 100,000 citizens). Most of the victims are young men aged 15 to 30 living in urban areas.

Increases in overall criminal activity in the region are linked to the drug trade, arms smuggling, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, extortion rackets, and robberies on public transportation. Although governments attribute most of these offences to organized crime, youth gangs, and common criminals, they have little evidence on which to base these claims since their investigative capacity is extremely low. In fact, impunity rates (no conviction registered for a crime) in Guatemala and El Salvador sit at 98%.

To effectively address this rise in criminal violence, methodologically rigorous studies are needed to identify the multiple forms of violence that youth are exposed to, and to document or propose effective strategies to counter and prevent this violence.

This project builds on earlier IDRC-supported work implemented by Interpeace. That work achieved significant success in shaping Guatemala's youth violence prevention policy. The current research, again led by Interpeace, aims to investigate the impact of new policies on youth violence in the northern triangle region. It will also dig deeper into understanding how certain forms of violence (gender-based violence, school violence, organized crime, and youth underemployment) are affecting youth. The focus will be on marginalized and highly vulnerable youth groups, such as indigenous youth and Afro-descendents.

This research will evaluate the impact of existing policies, document knowledge gaps in the three countries, and propose new policy recommendations. An expected outcome includes the uptake by state authorities of policies developed under previous research that focused on youth violence in Guatemala. Data will also be generated on trends in youth violence.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Monday, March 5, 2012

End Date

Sunday, August 31, 2014


24 months

IDRC Officer

Gottsbacher, Markus

Total funding

CA$ 464,000


Guatemala, North and Central America, Honduras, El Salvador, South America


Governance and Justice

Project Leader

Ana Glenda Tager


International Peacebuilding Alliance (INTERPEACE)

Institution Country


Institution Website