About Belize’s Children
Belize’s population is approximately 380,000. 36.8% of the population is under the age of 15 years old.
The laws of Belize require that a child complete primary school. Unfortunately, only about 80% continue to secondary school, with approximately half completing High school
While the laws ascribe financial responsibility for the care of the child to the father, they require the mother to maintain and care for the child. Predominantly the mother ends up with most of the day-to-day fiscal burden of child-rearing when the father is absent. It becomes the responsibility of the mother to take the father to court to enforce his obligation to financially support the child.
The unemployment rate is 10.2%. Around 43% of the population live below the poverty line, with more than 25% of all children coming from single parent, women lead households where the mother has a menial job or is unemployed. This produces a strain on the families to meet basic food and education needs of children.
Strong laws exist in Belize to deal with the sexual abuse of a child, even so, there is a lax in the judicial and legal sector in investigating and prosecuting cases of child abuse. There is a misconception that the Department of Human Services prosecutes persons for abuse. The Department secures the safety of the child by removing the child and providing counseling and rehabilitation for the child, but child abuse is a criminal offense and charges must be brought by and investigated by the police. It is estimated that more than 50% of complaints about child abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect are withdrawn and/or not prosecuted. In recent years, the number of reports of child abuse have trebled with reports of sexual abuse increasing by more than five-fold.
One hundred years from now,
it will not matter what kind of car I drove,
how much money I had in the bank,
nor what my clothes looked like.
But the world may be a little better,
if I was important in the life of a child.