Statistics on Child Violence in Costa Rica
Alarmingly, there are 26 formal complaints per day regarding child and teenager violence in Costa Rica. Authorities have determined that there have to be much more than those. There are awareness campaigns to highlight abuse in a greater and better way so anybody that witnesses child and teenager abuse report it to the police and the government can provide the necessary accompaniment for each case and determine if there is aggression. The country is facing a shocking and heartbreaking reality: in 2014 there were 666 complaints, in 2015: 974, in 2016: 1349, in 2017: 1673, in 2018: 1782, in 2019: 1853 and in 2020 there were 7060 child abuse complaints. Sexual abuse complaints are not contemplated in those numbers. Regarding homicides of minors, in 2014 there were 10 and in 2020 there were 21.
We can see an increasing pattern in a 7 year period where it is evident that social practices have normalized child abuse and the vulnerability of minors is higher with the pandemic. What’s worse is the fact that under investigation, in most of the cases, the aggressor is someone close to the family or family itself.
The sanitary crisis has provoked, among other things, virtual education to avoid the spreading of the virus. When the stress of the responsibility of the minor learning met the stress of the economic crisis in the whole country, the violence environment grew for families. But due to the isolation, when a minor was abused, no other adults could see the marks or have the opportunity to help the kids in this situation. It is not a secret for anyone that the schools are a place of protection and contention for kids, a place to feel safe and to tell what’s happening to them.
There are entities and people in the government right now trying to establish ways for the minors to be able to report the agressions even if they´re in confinement. Nevertheless, as a culture, Costa Ricans have learned that physical and emotional violence is not allowed but when it comes to neglect it is not taken seriously but the children and teenagers depend on their needs being supplied. In 2018, a Law was approved so it is forbidden to physically punish or humiliate children and teenagers in Costa Rica.
It is very important that parents and adults in charge of taking care of children explain to them what child and teenager abuse is so they can identify if they or others are victims. They need to be able to tell if they´re not being treated with respect, taking damage in their physical, mental or emotional health or if they’re being neglected in their basic needs. Communication and visibility might as well be the key to fix this problem in Costa Rica, to stop stigmatizing and re victimizing the people suffering.