Challenges and opportunities of urbanization and digitalization in Indonesia:

Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country, with around 85 million children, who form nearly one-third of the national population. Indonesia has maintained strong economic growth for the last two decades, but the economic gain has been accompanied by rising inequality and urbanization; Indonesia has the fifth largest urban population in the world (138 million in 2017) and about 53% of the population now live in urban areas – many of them in urban informal settlements or slums. Many families are moving from the villages to the cities to look for better opportunities and tens of millions are now living in underdeveloped urban areas. Recent reports show that nearly 13.8 million of the country’s children in Indonesia are living below the national poverty line. In the last two decades, children and adolescents from the urban slums are increasingly involved in urban violence, ranging from school brawls and soccer hooliganism to motorcycle gangs, thuggery and terrorism.12  These incidences indicate how the community needs to raise their awareness to prevent the use of children and adolescents for violent criminal acts. In which the school can play an important role to connect the children with local social support systems and away from dysfunctional families and high-risk environments.

Digital revolution has arrived in Indonesian cities, meaning that the internet plays an increasing role in Indonesia.3  Around 84% of Indonesians own at least one smart phone and the Indonesian Internet audience had 100 million users in 2015. Half of the “netizens” (net citizens) in Indonesia are under age 30, living in the urban areas. There were 64 million Facebook users in Indonesia in 2014 with 56 % of this group 16-24 years old. Jakarta has recently been called the world’s number one Twitter city for the number of tweets sent. Indonesian children and adolescents may be exposed to harmful or adult content without adult supervision. They are vulnerable to cyber bullying and illegal hacking of systems. There is also an increasing concern about online recruitment and exploitation of children by organized crime or terrorist groups in Indonesia. Therefore, the Indonesian government is very interested in finding ways to face these challenges focusing on the role of new technologies as relevant to the future options and vulnerabilities of the urban youth in Indonesia.4  On one hand, digital innovation has increased the access to information, services and other benefits but on the other hand, it also poses a threat to children and adolescents’ wellbeing, safety and development making the vulnerable even more vulnerable. Some of the solutions to this problem lie in smart use of data and digital technologies.

1 Youth and urban violence – National – The Jakarta Post
2 Augment, Connect, Target: Realizing Indonesia’s Urban Potential (
3 McKinsey Indonesia Office (2016), Unlocking Indonesia’s digital opportunity Insights/Unlocking Indonesias digital opportunity/Unlocking_Indonesias_digital_opportunity.ashx
4 UNFPA (2014), Indonesian Youth In The 21st Century
Indonesian_Youth_in_the_21st_Century_(Youth_Mapping).pdf (

The advantages of school-based interventions:

Schools can play an important role in children’s and adolescents’ health and wellbeing beyond teaching academic skills. They can boost family and community engagement, which increases resilience against bad influences.5 ”The school can be a leading (or pivotal) institution for this, because teachers, counselors and school nurses interact not only with children and adolescents but also with their families and the wider community on a regular basis, often over many years. The school is often in contact with local health services, social workers and other authorities addressing behaviors of concern (i.e. anti-social behavior, social withdraw) among children and adolescents.


Photo : SCSS Team USK

5 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2001). Youth violence: A report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: Office of the Surgeon General (U.S.).

Our vision:

Our vision is to enhance the wellbeing of children/adolescents and their families, improve community safety and cohesion, and offer the youth better prospects for the future.

Our objectives 

The objective of the project is to develop, test and evaluate a contextually relevant school-based intervention for use in violence-prone urban areas in Indonesia. The overall research question is: How can cycles of violence be broken in a world of digital revolution?

Photo : SCSS Team USK

The adaptation focuses on modifying the SCSS program for the Indonesian context using translational research, implementation science, and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) principles. The implementation focuses on 1) how to  reduce the detrimental effects of violence on individuals especially school children, their families and communities in the digital age, and 2) how to promote prosocial behavior, inclusion and social trust. Altogether, the project seeks to prevent recruitment of youth into violent organizations/organized crime, and to decrease the risk of political or religious radicalization and extremism.

When adapting an existing theoretical model balancing between fidelity to the core elements of the model and contextually- adapted version can be challenging. Consequently, implementation at the two sites in Indonesia, is preceded and accompanied by a substantial amount attentiveness and vigilance to context including the scarcity of human, financial and institutional resources in the local schools and communities, to support the appropriate adaptation of the program. Hence, an integral component of the project examines eventual changes in the process of implementation that may occur and evaluate the extent to which proposed and employed adaptations are effective, relevant and adequate.

Image: Centre for Study of Prevention and Violence (CSPV) at the University of Colorado Boulder

Funded by

Foundation Botnar

Start date

October 2019