A statistical profile of violence against children in Latin America and the Caribbean – Colombia

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2 out of 3 children in Latin America and the Caribbean are victims of violence at home

Violence against children starts early and follows them into adolescence, according to a new regional report from UNICEF.

PANAMA CITY, Panama, October 31, 2022 – From the age of one, children in Latin America and the Caribbean are at risk of violence at home, at school and on the streets, a new report reveals UNICEF regional. A statistical profile of violence against children in Latin America and the Caribbean reveals that nearly 2 in 3 children aged 1-14 in the region experience violent discipline at home.[1]

In addition to corporal punishment and psychological aggression in early childhood, sexual abuse and homicide stalk millions of children and adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean. The regional rate of child and adolescent homicides (12.6 per 100,000) is four times higher than the world average (3 per 100,000). And homicide is the leading cause of death among teenagers aged 10 to 19.[2]

“It is appalling that most children in Latin America and the Caribbean are exposed to violence almost from birth and, often, by the people they trust most: their parents, caregivers, peers and neighbours,” said Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, regional head of UNICEF. Acting Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Unfortunately, in many communities in the region, violent discipline is socially accepted. Children replicate this pattern with their own children as adults, perpetuating the cycle of violence.

Violence affects boys and girls differently in the region. The report found that boys are seven times more likely to die by homicide than girls. Meanwhile, girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence after the age of 10.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, violence against children is driven not only by negative social and gender norms, but also by other factors such as inequality, insecurity, migration and humanitarian crises. In the region, 2 out of 5 children also live in countries without legal protection against corporal punishment at home, at school and in places supported by the state.

“Adults often use violence against children because it is what they know and have experienced. To break this cycle early, we need to act early by promoting alternatives. With the commitment of parents, caregivers, teachers, communities and governments, it is possible to raise children free from violence and build safer and more prosperous societies for the benefit of all,” added Abdel- Jelil.

To end all forms of violence against children, UNICEF urges governments to:

  • Adopt laws that completely prohibit corporal punishment in all settings.
  • Invest in violence prevention programs, including positive parenting programs that provide caregivers with the support and resources they need.
  • Implement social and behavior change interventions to challenge the normalization of violence against children. Build the capacity of social service personnel to prevent, recognize and respond to violence against children.
  • Improve data collection on violence against children, using standard measures, to address data gaps on different issues such as childhood sexual abuse.

Note to Editor:

A statistical profile of violence against children in Latin America and the Caribbean report is available here.

1]Source for all data in this section, unless otherwise indicated: United Nations Children’s Fund, A Statistical Profile of Violence against Children in Latin America and the Caribbean, UNICEF, New York, 2022.
[2] Same.

Media contacts
Sendai Zea
Communication specialist (emergencies)
UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: +507 6821 0843
Email: [email protected]

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