Top Takeaways from the 14th Session of the UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Soroptimist International (SI) Advocacy Advisor, Linda Witong, and Soroptimist International of Americas (SIA) President Elect, Kazuko Morita, share their top takeaways from the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice held in Kyoto, 7-12 March, 2021.

Photo: Sachiko Inoue (left), Kazuko Morita (right)

A key session for Linda Witong was ‘Family Based Intervention for the Prevention of Crime, Youth, Violence and Violent Extremism’ held  on 8 March.

Linda explains, “During this session, speakers discussed how a family could either be one of the biggest risk factors for behavioural problems and crime, or one of the protective factors, preventing young people from committing crimes, or becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs. This is true for drug use, as well as low school attainment, delinquency, poor mental health, violence and radicalisation.

Speakers discussed the ways that programmes could support the family and community to achieve the goal of protecting children. For example, successful programs[1] included the importance of developing safe, stable and nurturing relationships between parents, caregivers, and their children. Programmes could include information and support to parents; community-based support services for parents and their children; family therapy; or, campaigns which enhance knowledge and awareness of child maltreatment. programmes may also include income and economic strengthening, response and support services, including a focus on education, with early school dropouts a major risk factor. Outcomes of these interventions showed a significant positive effect on mental health problems, positive/prosocial behaviour as well as significant declines in substance use, incarceration rates, and felony arrest rates, with higher completion rates of school years and statistically significant increases in academic performance.

Speakers also observed that preventing violence against children should include a set of strategies which highlight the role of prevention at individual, family, community and society levels. Implementing and enforcing laws should involve creating key prevention strategies through the criminal justice system, community-and problem-oriented policing, non-custodial sentences, alternatives to imprisonment and social reintegration of offenders (prison-based and in the community).

Speakers discussed examples of how policymakers and programme implementers could design, plan, implement, monitor and evaluate interventions and programmes using the seven ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T.’ strategies to prevent violence against women. Click HERE to read more about R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Throughout the congress, it became apparent that “women’s rights are meaningless unless they feel empowered to claim them” – Hilary Clinton. And so it was encouraging to see that numerous countries, regions and cities have developed observatories to improve information on and understanding of crime and the social and economic problems associated with it. [2] Their focus includes gender-based violence as it contravenes women’s and girls’ rights, undermines development and is an affront to our common humanity.[3] Violence against women and girls is also a barrier to gender equality, the empowerment of women and overall sustainable development. [4]

SIA President Elect, Kazuko Morita explains,“It was such a privilege to attend the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. Participating in this event was overwhelming because it was so unknown to me, but I was able to understand each and every part of it. Initially, I was not aware of how this conference was connected to our activities, but I became deeply aware that human trafficking, child abduction, racial discrimination, domestic violence, etc. are problems that cannot be solved without international cooperation, which then led me to Soroptimist activities, and to the accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Click HERE to read more from Linda on the ‘Evidence-Based Crime Convention: statistics, indicators and evaluation in support of successful practices’.

For more information on SI’s position on the themes covered in this article please visit the SI website where you can find our SI Position Papers.

[1] Examples of programmes that have shown impact:

UNODC actions as well as programmes such as Triple P; Generation PMTO; Functional family therapy; SNAP; Nurse Family Partnership; ParentCorps Program; Family Check-Up Programme.

Other programmes included Women’s DARC (Drug and rehabilitation centre)

[2]  Workshop 1. Evidence-based crime prevention: statistics, indicators and evaluation in support of successful practices. Background paper prepared by the Secretariat para 37 A/CONF.234/8

[3] Discussion Guide Paragraphs 15, 26, A/CONF.234/PM.1 – See also E/2017/66. Also: All forms of violence, target 16.1; and more specifically violence against women, target 5.2; and violence against children, target 16.2.

[4] Discussion Guide Paragraphs 15, 26,64-65,86-87 A/CONF.234/PM.1

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