Critical Choices: Assessing The Effects Of Education and Civic Engagement on Somali Youths’ Propensity Towards Violence

Understanding what works to reduce violence, including violent extremism, is a key priority for many policymakers. Despite this need, to date there is very little research evaluating the effects of development programs on violence reduction. To address this knowledge gap, Mercy Corps undertook a rigorous impact evaluation of a 5-year stability-focused youth program in Somalia known as the Somali Youth Leaders Initiative (SYLI).

"Teach Peace" Paris 2015 (Photo: Denis Bocquet, Flickr)

Can Teaching Peace Reduce Violent Crime?

Public policy students at Georgetown University have an idea for reducing violence in the nation’s capital: a peace cluster. Based off an international anti-violence program conceived by a Colombian priest, the approach teaches conflict-resolution skills to young people. In other words, at-risk, troubled youth are given workshops on forgiveness and reconciliation. The goal is to break a cycle of violent retaliation and slowly create a culture of peace. In early March, a team of graduate students from the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown won $5,000 to launch a D.C. version of the program in certain groups of neighborhoods or geographic “clusters.”