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Nov 22, 2021

Children’s Parliament Issues Call to Protect Young People From Violent Crime

On Saturday there was a Special Sitting of the House of Representatives. It was no ordinary day of House business, however. Instead, young people from all over Belize became the parliamentarians, introducing an act they would like to see become an actual law, to protect children from the adults who seek to corrupt them and involve them in criminal activity. The young people who rose to support the bill had done their research and knew the extent of the crime situation in Belize, the number of young people killed by gun violence, and the factors that contribute to gang membership at an early age. Here are some highlights of this important event sponsored by UNICEF that helps young people lend their voices to the national debate, and gives representation to the largest group of Belizean, children under eighteen, who comprise half our population.


Aspen Peralta, Prime Minister

Aspen Peralta

“Mr. Speaker, I move the second reading of a bill to enact to make it an offense for any person to recruit or groom children in the commission of an offense, and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. This Act aims to punish any adult who would compel, force, induce or invite a child, being a person under the age of 18 years, to engage in a crime under the Criminal Code, the Crime Control and Justice Act or the Misuse of Drugs Act.”


Ilana Cruz

Ilana Cruz, Area Rep, Lake Independence

“Channel Six has reported that from January to November of this year 2021, Belize has suffered from ninety murders. Nine of these reported have been children under the age of 18. Just three days ago, on the news it was reported that 17 year old Camryn Hernandez had succumbed to the bullet wounds. Yet another child, another leader of our generation, taken away from his family (wait for head nod from girl on right).”


Huston Alvarez, Area Rep., Corozal North

Huston Alvarez

“What have we done? What are we doing? And what will we do to tackle these areas? And prevent children from engaging in criminal activity?”


Laisha Po

Laisha Pol, Area Representative, Cayo Northeast

“An IDB study conducted in Belize City in 2019 stated that gang involved individuals were recruited at the average age of 14.5. This means that the majority of them were recruited in their adolescent years. An additional ten percent of youth in the city are at risk for gang involvement because they are exposed to the many risk factors such as being financially unstable, or needing a sense of protection and security. The gang members in the video reported being expelled, suspended or dropping out school. It is alarming that more than 50 percent of them reported having a somewhat easy access to guns, or having at some point, participated in a shooting.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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