Policies and Social Safety

The primary focus of this theme is to understand the different Central American and Caribbean socioeconomic, educational, child protection and judicial policies created since the release of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the United Nations World Report on Violence against Children — Latin American Report (2006).

We are conducting a meta-synthesis of policies to explore how Canadian protection systems are meeting the needs of Caribbean and Latin American diaspora communities in Canada.

Different Forms of Violence Against Children and Youth

Children in Central America and the Caribbean experience high exposure to violence Selee et al., 2013; Shifter, 2012; UNICEF, 2006) and this theme is interested in measuring how political, institutional, economic, and social violence impact the life course experiences of children and youth in these regions, and in the diaspora populations in Canada

Across these regions, youth are being engaged in focus groups and individual interviews, and data is being collected in these regions using tools such as the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence, and the Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire.

Institutional Practices

This theme explores the practices of institutions charged with ensuring the protection of the rights of children and youth. The main goal is to explore the practices of different institutions in charge of ensuring the protection of child and youth rights. To understand how mandates are put into practice and whether practices support or hinder child and youth rights, the robust examination includes education, child protection, and judicial practices within Offices of the Attorney General, national systems of child protection, and conglomerates of NGOs involved in child protection (Parada, 2011).

Social Media and ICT Use

This theme is concentrating on child and youth participation through the lens of social media. 

North American literature shows that adolescents primarily use social media for entertainment (Park & Calamaro, 2013), and civic engagement when “linked to the local territory and its activities” (D’ambrosi & Massoli, 2012, p. 530). In Latin America, most of the research carried out on youth and social media is for marketing purposes, and little has been conducted on human rights and social participation (Bringue et. al., 2011)

In order to fill this knowledge gap in the Caribbean, Latin American and Canada, we are enhancing youth in these regions with surveys, focus groups, community meetings and content analysis of local social media. 

Immigration Dynamics

In order to fully understand the complexity of migration experience, we will examine push/pull factors and perform a historical-structuralist analysis of both migration systems and transnationalism (Castles & Miller, 2003). We will also mirror Orozco and Yansura’s (2013) focus on a) labour migration (through the lens of policy); b) family remittances; c) diaspora outreach, transnational engagement, and host country integration (in Canada); and d) legal, social, economic and labour challenges of reintegration for individuals who choose to return home.

Of particular interest is whether or not children and youth from Central America and the Caribbean have less protection after the migration process, especially when they are not accompanied by one or both parents. We will also examine whether Canada provides special protections for unaccompanied children, how family dynamics change, whether or not educational difficulties emerge, and the vulnerability of children and youth to trafficking and involvement in organized crime after migration (CARICOM, OIM and UNICEF, 2010; Orozco & Yansura, 2013; UNICEF, 2006).

We will do a macro analysis of census data, together with participatory action research with other governmental and nongovernmental organizations within the region and Canada. Consultation with youth (e.g., focus groups, community activities) who have been affected by the migration process is critical if policies and interventions that both protect and empower them are to be produced (Ensor, 2010).

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