Children have a right to be properly cared for and protected from violence, abuse and neglect, and it is normally their families who are primarily responsible for this. However, the armed conflict and daily poverty in Colombia have left many parents struggling to cope, and have contributed to the breakdown of family and community support structures.
Challenges facing families
Often families need support to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children, particularly those in the outskirts of the cities where it can be difficult to access even basic services.
Families have often been forced by the conflict or related violence to flee their hometowns, leaving behind extended family and friends. Without support networks to share their problems or worries with, and unsure how to access state support, it can be incredibly difficult for parents to cope. Many of the parents our partners work with don't know about non-violent forms of punishment, or how to communicate rules and boundaries with their children. They may also have experienced abuse themselves that they have not dealt with properly. These factors, combined with the difficulties that poverty brings – the struggle of trying to put food on the table, the stress of juggling work and childcare, the tensions of cramped living conditions – can make the home environment a hostile one.
Risks for children
Many children find themselves at risk of violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect at the hands of those closest to them. Families, particularly mothers and fathers, are the most frequent perpetrators of violence against children, and 89,807 cases of domestic violence were reported in Colombia in 2011. Violence at home is one of the primary causes of children spending time on the streets, where they become vulnerable to a host of other dangers. A child who is experiencing violence or a difficult home environment will also be less able to concentrate at school and is likely to have lower attendance rates and be a year behind.
What is Children Change Colombia doing?
Children Change Colombia is committed to developing protection for children against violence, abuse and neglect across all our projects, and working with families, communities and government agencies to ensure that every child's right to protection is fulfilled.
We are working with our partners to provide parents with peaceful conflict resolution skills, as well as information and practical support to help them develop parenting skills, deal with crisis situations and protect and promote their children's rights. Our partners are also working to reunify families and prevent family breakdown by helping parents to improve relationships within the family, develop support networks and access institutional support.
Our partners working to support families are: