UNICEF calls for urgent action to end violence against children

Protecting children is an all-of Government and society responsibility

20 May 2024
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UNICEF 2023

UNICEF is gravely concerned by the spike and gravity of incidents of violence that have been impacting children in Belize over the last couple of months. Regrettably, since the beginning of the year, children between the tender ages of 5 and 15 years have been experiencing violations of their right to be protected from neglect, harm, sexual abuse and assault and exploitation. Furthermore, these incidents are occurring in spaces where children should feel safe and protected. 

Homes, schools and communities are supposed to be safe havens for children to play and grow. Incidents where children are caught in crossfires and become casualties of gun-violence, have been notably on the increase. The loss of 15-year-old Lamisa Moody, a promising student residing on the South Side of Belize City, the killing of 8-year-old Megan Klessen and the foiled abduction of a 5-year-old child from her front yard, by a known sexual offender, in Belmopan are deeply disturbing.

UNICEF also notes the regularity of allegations of sexual abuse and rape of minors with the reported perpetrators being fathers, brothers and people known to the victims as persons who ought to nurture and protect them. We lament the egregious cases of a 14-year-old girl who was gang-raped by four men in an abandoned building in Belize City, and of a 14-year-old boy who was raped by a police officer, while in his custody in a Punta Gorda police station. Similarly, a teacher was recently accused of raping a student, on the school compound. These are duty bearers and care givers who are obligated and entrusted with creating an environment of trust, safety and development for children. 

The impact of traumatic experiences ripples through the lives of children and ultimately affects Belize’s development. Physical and emotional reactions persists long after the event and without adequate psycho-social support the effects on the psyche of a child is indelible. Consequently, when our society loses children, not only do we grieve the loss of a precious life, but we also forfeit their infinite potential impeding Belize’s maximum growth and development. We cannot allow such heinous violations against children to become the norm.  

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Belize was the fifth country to ratify the CRC, pledging to the vision of a world fit for children through the realization of their rights. One of the cornerstones of that agreement is the unfaltering commitment to the protection of children as a nation’s highest priority. Every child has an inalienable right to live a life free from all forms of neglect, harm, sexual abuse and assault and exploitation. 

UNICEF takes this opportunity to reaffirm its support to the efforts of Government, non-governmental organizations, civil society partners, academia and the media to fulfil these commitments to children thereby providing them with a safe sanctuary where every boy and girl can experience a childhood that nurtures and empowers them to reach their fullest potential, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

 

 

Media contacts

Alison Parker
Representative
UNICEF Belize
Stephanie Daniels
Communications Officer
UNICEF Belize
Tel: 501-610-0322

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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