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UNICEF Concerned About Spike in Violence Against Children in Belize

UNICEF has expressed grave concern over the recent surge in incidents of violence affecting children in Belize. Over the past few months, children between the ages of 5 and 15 have experienced violations of their right to be protected from neglect, harm, sexual abuse, assault, and exploitation. Shockingly, these incidents are occurring in spaces where children should feel safe and protected.


Homes, schools, and communities are meant to be safe havens for children to play and grow. However, incidents where children are caught in crossfires and become casualties of gun violence have been on the rise. The tragic loss of 15-year-old Lamisa Moody, a student from 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 has also noted the disturbing regularity of allegations of sexual abuse and rape of minors. Perpetrators include fathers, brothers, and individuals known to the victims as people who should nurture and protect them. Shocking cases include a 14-year-old girl who was gang-raped by four men in an abandoned building in Belize City and a 14-year-old boy who was raped by a police officer while in custody at a Punta Gorda police station. Recently, a teacher was accused of raping a student on the school compound. These are individuals entrusted with creating an environment of trust, safety, and development for children.

The impact of traumatic experiences lingers long after the event, affecting children’s physical and emotional well-being. Without adequate psycho-social support, the effects on a child’s psyche can be memorable. Losing children to violence not only results in the tragic loss of precious lives but also hinders Belize’s overall growth and development.


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, committing to a world fit for children by ensuring their rights. A cornerstone of this agreement is an unwavering commitment to protecting children as the nation’s highest priority. Every child has an inalienable right to live a life free from neglect, harm, sexual abuse, and exploitation.


UNICEF reaffirms its support for the efforts of the government, non-governmental organizations, civil society partners, academia, and the media in fulfilling these commitments to children. Together, we must provide a safe sanctuary where every boy and girl can experience a childhood that nurtures and empowers them to reach their fullest potential while ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice.

 

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