Child labor in Colombia fell from 13 percent in 2011 to 7.8 percent in 2016, but with more than 850,000 minors still working the streets, the government has acknowledged that the country must work together in order to eradicate the issue.
"Although the rate of child labor has been reduced significantly in Colombia, there are still 869,000 children working in the country: this is a huge and monstrous figure that humiliates us as Colombians," said Labor Minister Griselda Janeth Restrepo Gallego in San Victorino, Bogota.
"This is not a problem of the ICBF (Colombian Family Welfare Institute), the police or MinTrabajo; it is a situation that concerns all Colombians and we all have to fight."
The minister explained that the state is starting a nationwide campaign to bring awareness to the country's different regions, beginning in the larger cities.
Until recently, child labor was approved by the majority of Colombians. Their level of productivity was considered beneficial and labor was believed to instill a healthy dose of responsibility.
Many families are still sending their offspring into dangerous environments, where those children are then used to smuggle illicit goods.
Raising awareness in rural areas has proven problematic in recent years: poverty and desperation force many families to trade a child's dependable salary for poor working conditions.
"This Ministry of Labor campaign does not intend to target those parents who take their children to their jobs these days because they do not have anyone to leave them with on holiday," said Restrepo.
"We want to reach those irresponsible adults who put children to work and, especially, those networks that often involve minors in forced labor and – what is worse – in the sale of drugs, drug trafficking and prostitution."
Restrepo, accompanied by Deputy Minister of Labor Relations and Inspection Maria Eugenia Aparicio Soto, and Employment and Pension Minister Fredys Socarras Reales, said the ministry has so far received support from more than 32 private-sector companies. It has also invited the nation's police departments to join the campaign.
"Bogota is sensitive to this scourge: citizens are willing to prefer boys and girls in education and recreation rather than working," Restrepo said. "A child who works loses more than he earns."