Costa Rica is a country located in Central America with Caribbean Sea and North Pacific Ocean coastlines. It has a population of 5.1 million people.
Despite Costa Rica being an upper-middle-economy country, it faces an increasing rate of inequality. The government has put in place programmes to reduce poverty and eliminate the worst forms of child labour. However many children and young people continue to need support so that they can grow up safely.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Costa Rica since 1972.
Around 84,490 children and adolescents were victims of violence in 2021.
Even though corporal punishment is prohibited by law in Costa Rica, UNICEF’s most recent statistics indicate that 46% of children aged between 2 and 14 years were disciplined using physical and/or psychological punishment.
More work needs to be done to raise awareness on the negative effects of corporal punishment, and to provide parents, teachers and caregivers with positive parenting skills.
Around 1 in 3 children live in poverty in Costa Rica.
Households with a single parent, headed by women or without social insurance, are more likely to live in poverty.
Climate change is also impacting the lives of the poorest population. Likewise, inflation has a negative effect: with food prices increasing, families find it harder to buy nutritious food.
Costa Rica is highly vulnerable to drug trafficking because of its location and extensive maritime territory. Drug cartels use Costa Rica as a ‘pit-stop’ for hiding and transporting drugs.
This drug trade also brings other problems. For example, Limón and Puntarenas are coastal provinces and are most affected with alarming increase in homicides. Both provinces have high rates of poverty and unemployment -making them the perfect place to recruit children and adolescents into gangs.