End violence against children
– July 1 2019
Children are dying in our own backyard
It's time to do something about it
Statement on the migrant crisis from Neil Ghosh, CEO of SOS Children's Villages USA
By now, most of America has seen the horrifying picture of the lifeless bodies of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria. They passed away last weekend as they were making the journey that more than 2,200 people per day will try to make crossing the southern border into the United States. Of the nearly 600,000 apprehensions that have already been made thus far in 2019 at the southwest border, almost 60,000 have been unaccompanied children. How many more children must die or fall victim to extreme violence before something is done?
Children are the lifeblood of every society. They are our hope and future. Yet, they are also some of the most vulnerable. There is no greater spotlight on this fact than when crisis erupts and families are forced to make the unimaginable decision to leave their homes and flee to a more safe and secure environment. Whether on the U.S. border, in refugee and internally displaced person (IDP) camps around the world or hidden in a forest line away from immediate danger somewhere, it is the global community's imperative to ensure that children are cared for and that they are kept with their families.
In order to best understand why so many children are fleeing home unaccompanied, we must examine some of the root causes for the breakdown of the family unit in the countries with the highest number of migrants into the U.S. Of the children fleeing from Guatemala, 29% cited deprivation, 23% cited violence in the home and 20% cited violence in society as the top reasons for leaving their countries. When it comes to violence in the home, 63% of people fleeing from El Salvador, 24% from Honduras and 17% from Mexico attributed this as the primary motivator for fleeing. A report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees states that “Salvadoran and Honduran children…come from extremely violent regions where they probably perceive the risk of traveling alone to the U.S. preferable to remaining at home.”
SOS Children’s Villages in the USA, along with the global federation in 136 different countries, is dedicated to ensuring that every child grows up supported and cared for in a loving home. This includes offering family strengthening programs to families at the greatest risk of collapse. We are also committed to finding solutions to today’s challenges of mass displacement that work for both governments concerned about secure borders, and families trying to make a better life for their children.
We urge Congress to pass a bipartisan bill that will address these root causes of migration, and especially heed interventions that end violence against children. Join us in this cause and learn more about how to end violence against children.