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  • Central American children have meals at the Todo por ellos (All for them) immigrant shelter in Tapachula, Chiapas, in southern Mexico, June 26, 2014.

    Central American children have meals at the Todo por ellos (All for them) immigrant shelter in Tapachula, Chiapas, in southern Mexico, June 26, 2014. | Photo: Reuters

Published 2 December 2016

Enrolling in drug traffickers' ranks is one of the many threats that millions of children living in poverty face in Mexico and Central America. 

In Mexico and some regions in Central America, seven out of 10 children do not want to grow up fearing being recruited by organized crime organizations, according to a survey by London-based World Vision.

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Enrolling in drug trafficking ranks is one of the many threats that children face in the region, according to the nongovernmental organization.

“Children and adolescents under the age of 18 years face various forms of violence that often start in their families, I mean at least 220 minors are killed every day in the region in cases of domestic assaults,” Mishelle Mitchell, World Vision's communications manager in Latin America and the Caribbean, explained to La Jornada.

The organization urged the government of Mexico – the most violent and dangerous country according to them – to implement the National System of Comprehensive Protection for Children and Adolescents.

The initiative was launched last year by President Enrique Peña Nieto in order to address the pressure exerted by international charities and the United Nations over the huge adversities facing more than 21 million children who live in poverty in that country.

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“Violence in Mexico is a problem that has not been solved, and poor children and young people are a target population for gangs and drug trafficking organizations because of their vulnerability,” said Mitchell.

Other concern for charities and humanitarian organizations in Mexico are the mass deportations of unaccompanied minors conducted by the Obama administration. In 2013 alone, more than 15,561 children and adolescents were deported and left to their own at the border exposed to all kinds of dangers and violations of their rights.

According to NGOs, most children have no option but to join criminal gangs in order to survive. However, they believe that this could change through social programs and education. In Mexico, there are 6.1 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 who do not attend school.


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