A Statistical Profile of Violence Against Children in Latin America and the Caribbean

October 31, 2022

Across Latin America and the Caribbean, violence has become part of everyday life. In fact, by various measures, the region today is considered the most violent in the world. Its high rates of violence against children have been attributed to a dominant patriarchal culture, limited understanding among caregivers of effective non-violent disciplinary methods, authoritarian social norms, weak government systems, corruption, organized crime, narco-economies, urban marginalization, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, and tough security policies. All these factors have created a region characterized by stark inequalities.

Available data confirm that being a child in Latin America and the Caribbean is dangerous. This publication offers a snapshot of three forms of violence: corporal punishment and psychological aggression used as disciplinary methods; sexual violence; and violent death, with a focus on armed violence. All of them compromise children’s lives and futures and can have dire consequences: early pregnancies, low school performance, health issues, poor mental health, suicidal thoughts, social exclusion and fear.

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Key Findings

  • 2 in 3 children aged 1 to 14 in Latin America and the Caribbean experience violent discipline at home.
  • Just 11 countries in the region have laws that fully prohibit violent discipline, leaving 73 million children without this legal protection.
  • The child and adolescent homicide rate in Latin America and the Caribbean is 4 times higher than the global average.
  • Homicide is the leading cause of death among adolescents aged 10 to 19 in the region.