Youth at Risk Groups: Are they autpoietic systems?

Alberto Montbrun

Abstract


The development of systems thinking methodologies and approaches allows researchers to reach a better understanding of how complex living systems behave and evolve over time.
In this paper, we suggest some conclusions related to an ongoing study of “youth at risk groups” (YRG). Youth at risk and juvenile crime have become, in the last two decades, one of the most important issues related to public safety and quality of life in Latin America’s urban areas. For us, YRG are autopoietic complex living systems, and, from our experience, this concrete approach gives a solid basis for the understanding the problem and the design of public policies to deal with it.
Our approach is integral, systemic and holistic. Therefore, it stems from the very early stages of the problem –family, school, and neighbourhood– till the last consequences of its evolution: drugs consumption, crime, and the relationship of the YRG with the police, the criminal justice system and other governmental agencies.
At the same time, the paper points out the efforts by the government of La Rioja to deal with the problem, trying to reduce damage, looking for “win – win” processes and prioritizing the best interest of youths, as stated in international documents and agreements.
The paper overviews the experience of the last three years in the State of La Rioja, Argentina, where we have been working with systems thinking tools.

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