Monday 6 February 2023

Latin America, the most violent region for children, outside of wars

The pandemic and confinement left a region (Latin America) for a more insecure, violent, poor, less stable boy and girl, with more migrations, less healthy, more unequal and with less learning.

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Q REPORTS (EFE) Latin America and the Caribbean is the “most violent” region of the world for children, not counting the war zones, with worrying figures that worsened after the emergency caused by the covid-19 pandemic that broke out in 2020.

EFE/Sebastião Moreira

“Latin America and the Caribbean for a boy and a girl is the most violent region in the world, outside of conflict zones. And it is more violent after the pandemic,” the UNICEF head of Communication for Latin America and the Caribbean, Laurent Duvillier, told EFE.

Two out of three children under 14 years of age in Latin America have experienced domestic violence, a situation that begins “very early, even in children under 1 year of age,” Duvillier declared.

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“This violence, throughout childhood, endures. It changes scope, but it lasts,“ said the head of Communication.

This situation “begins at home, then at school, on the street and especially in girls, sexual harassment” and “is normalized, so that when they become adults, violence is normal and they repeat it.”

Violence can become deadly when reaching adolescence: the regional rate of homicides of children and adolescents (12.6 per 100,000) is four times higher than the world average (3 per 100,000), according to Unicef figures provided to EFE.

LATIN AMERICA: MORE UNSAFE AND UNEQUAL

“The pandemic and confinement left a region (Latin America) for a more insecure, violent, poor, less stable boy and girl, with more migrations, less healthy, more unequal and with less learning,” Duvillier said.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the most unequal region in the world, almost 45% of those under 18 years of age live in poverty, a proportion that exceeds the average for the general population of the region, which is 13%; this means that “children are more vulnerable to falling into poverty,” he explained.

One in three families with children “does not have enough financial resources to survive beyond two weeks, that is, they have a short-term survival period,” according to Unicef figures explained by Duvillier.

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As well as “50% of families with children say they are putting less food on their plates than before the pandemic.”

“This has consequences for health, so we have a region that is less healthy and with more diseases. But also in brain development and school performance,” Duvillier warned.

AN “EXPLOSIVE COCKTAIL”

Duvillier emphasized the region’s “learning crisis,” as four out of five sixth-graders (ages 10-12) cannot understand a simple text; This is one of the direct consequences of the closure of schools, the “longest and most continuous” on the planet.

“This is data that will have long-term implications for the economic development, social and political stability of the entire region,” she pointed out.

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According to Unicef, this generation could lose up to 12% of their lifetime earnings, or a collective loss of up to US$2.3 trillion dollars, if urgent action is not taken to address the crisis.

On average, Latin American students have fallen 1.5 years behind in learning, and by the end of this year, reading and math test scores are expected to fall to levels of more than ten years ago.

All “that is an explosive cocktail,” Duvillier alarmed.

He added that if urgent action is not taken, Latin America will have “doctors who do not know how to heal, engineers who do not know how to build a bridge, professors who do not know how to teach.”

“It will also generate a shortage of qualified labor, which results in migration to call people from abroad, a huge challenge for the engine of the country,” he concluded.

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