Belize is susceptible not only to internal social and economic pressures, but also to climate change, regional economic and political events and migration patterns. All combined, the results are significant social and economic inequality, geographic, age and gender-based disparity in access to services, and high levels of vulnerability to widespread violence, as clearly indicated in the MICS5 Report released by UNICEF and the Statistics Institute of Belize in 2017.
- Today, 49% — almost half — of all Belizean children live in multidimensional poverty.
- While infant mortality has decreased since the early 2000’s, today 18 of every 1000 babies do not survive.
- Nutrition is still a concern: 19% of our children are affected by growth stunting.
- Access to safe drinking water and sanitation remains elusive, with 27% of the schools inspected having contaminated water.
- Only 55% of children currently have access to quality early childhood education. While almost all of Belize’s children attend primary school, too many are not moving on to high school. Only 63% of our girls are in secondary school and only 57% of the boys.
- Only 24% of our children have support from their fathers as they grow; mothers are not a guaranteed presence either, with only 68% caring for their children in their first years of life.
- 65% of our children aged 1-14 report experiencing physical punishment, often severe and many report psychological abuse and aggression from parents and caregivers.
Countless Belizean children have been traumatized by gang violence, crime and domestic violence, losing loved ones to murder, road traffic accidents and illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and HIV/AIDS. As Belize enters the digital age, the country’s children must now confront new problems such as cyberbullying and exploitation by adults online.