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Fear, Vulnerability, and Death for Children and Youth at the US–México Border

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Part of the Geographies of Children and Young People book series (GCYP,volume 11)


This chapter examines the USA–México border as a case study for investigating fear and violence, violence containment measures, and vulnerability for youth living in and migrating through international border zones. It argues that globalization, “national security,” and border surveillance regimes exacerbate structural violence associated with failed economic policies, “drug war(s) policies,” and poverty and government corruption which negatively impact young people. Youth, who enjoy limited access to human rights protections, find themselves trapped between remaining in home countries overrun by cartel violence and ravaged by poverty and “choosing” life-threatening migration to the USA. Additionally, youth who are rooted on both sides of the border face increasingly narrowed options for their own survival. Cultural nationalism, racism, xenophobia, and the militarization of the border punctuate the economic crises that make membership in gangs, cartels, and the shadow world of drug and human trafficking viable “options” for some. Through an analysis of these structural conditions and global forces, this chapter additionally assesses specific examples wherein youth on both sides of the border confront state violence, economic marginalization, and myriad “deaths.” A macro-level approach combined with microlevel examples signals both the precarious existences of youth on the border and offers a modicum of hope that young people will survive a geography of uncertainty, dislocation, and fear.


  • USA–México border
  • Border violence
  • Violence containment
  • Drug wars
  • Migration
  • Undocumented youth

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Correspondence to Cynthia Bejarano .

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Bejarano, C. (2015). Fear, Vulnerability, and Death for Children and Youth at the US–México Border. In: Harker, C., Hörschelmann, K., Skelton, T. (eds) Conflict, Violence and Peace. Geographies of Children and Young People, vol 11. Springer, Singapore.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Singapore

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-4585-98-9

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