What is driving the Mexican youth to join organized crime?

Poverty and the lack of opportunities has pushed minors to join organized crime

What is driving the Mexican youth to join organized crime?
In recent years, more and more minors have been arrested in connection with organized crime - Photo: Daniel Becerril/REUTER
English 16/03/2020 09:51 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 09:55
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What does the future holds for those who quit high school or university? What are the options for those who married before 18? For teenagers who became parents before 18? Can they return to school? How can youngsters handle the violent situation in the place where they live?

After leaving school or having a child, the youth might be in line to start working and join the labor market however, the options are not encouraging. The majority hopes to occupy positions that don’t require much expertise where they will likely earn the minimum wage and although the minimum wage has recently increased above inflation, it is still not enough to cover the needs of a family.

Moreover, violence is also a great risk for the youth. In areas where organized crime operates, youngsters are targeted by criminals since they are considered as cheap labor that can be used for their crimes. For example, if a young person who does not have an education, gets married, has a child, and lives in a community plagued by crime, the situation turns grim.

Recommended: Over 4,000 Mexican minors involved in organized crime

A 2017 report issued by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights stated that organized crime enlisted around 30,000 youths. This became visible when the number of minors arrested increased. In 2018, the Defense Ministry and the Navy reported the detention of 388 minors linked to organized crime.

In 2019, the first year of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in office, the number did not decrease and on the contrary, it increased by 13%. In 2019, the armed forced arrested 442 minors during several operations.

Furthermore, figures indicate that welfare and training programs for the youths who don’t have a job or study haven’t had an impact on many. Moreover, several previous governments ignore the young for decades and now that the current government has focused on them, the measures are not having the expected results.

However, in order to prevent youths from joining organized crime, the programs must go beyond financial aid. It’s necessary to develop and implement a wholesome program such as the one proposed by Sippina. The numbers are clear and the strategy has to be modified if the government wants to modify the lives of thousands of young people who lack opportunities.

Recommended: Executions are behind Mexico City's soaring violence


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