On June 21, the Local Protection Network in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala and IJM Guatemala facilitated a fair to inform children and adolescents how minors experiencing violence can access justice and other services within their community.
The Local Protection Network – a group of 26 grassroots and child-centered organizations focused on improving the safety in Quetzaltenango - with the support of IJM Guatemala, carried out a successful initiative for children and adolescents. The fair received students from schools in Quetzaltenango, an area that has historically struggled with violence against women and children.
The event was attended by 125 children, 25 adolescents and 50 community leaders, who visited the stands of several organizations and institutions to learn about justice and attention services available within the community. They were also equipped with information about their rights, identification of violent behaviour and routes for filing complaints.
The initiative addressed protection as a crucial element of childhood development as UNICEF Guatemala stated in its report Investing in Childhood (2023, p. 37). The document identifies protection of children against violence as one of four primary elements impacting childhood development. Describing the pressing need to address violence in the country, the report expresses:
“Determining the magnitude of the violence against childhood and adolescence is difficult. Many cases are unknown due to fear, ignorance, or tolerance of certain social practices. Only a tiny proportion of cases of violence are reported. For example, in Guatemala, the Public Ministry, in 2022, reported 61 girls, boys and adolescent victims of crime per day, out of these, 19 were cases of sexual violence.”
The event on June 21, is an example of how IJM supports and educates communities, empowering local actors – such as the Local Protection Network – to protect children and work with the public justice system to report and prosecute crimes.