Save the Children Welcomes White House Plan to Invest in Central America, Calls for Focus on Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 30, 2015) — Save the Children welcomed the White House announcement calling on Congress to make a greater investment in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

“Last year, tens of thousands of unaccompanied children fled for our borders in large part to escape threats of violence, deepening poverty, and social inequality. U.S. support is needed to address the devastating root causes that lead families to send their children on a life-threatening journey in hopes of a better future,” said Carolyn Miles, president & CEO of Save the Children.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the details of the plan,” Miles added. “Investing in children now is critical to securing the brighter future the plan envisions.”

To be effective, Save the Children said any plan will need to support programs that:

  • Stem the trend of growing violence against children linked to organized crime. Interviews of migrant children have consistently revealed violence linked to organized crime as a primary motivating factor for migration. Youth have been targeted for murder at alarming rates and trafficking and gang intimidation are too often a feature of these children’s lives. Strategies to reduce violence should work to help youth leave the influence of gangs and successfully integrate them back into their families and communities.
  • Combat sexual and gender based violence. High levels of intra-familial violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras persist and murder rates and sexual assault of women and girls have increased sharply. Additional programming is needed for community-based efforts to prevent violence and improve investigations and prosecutions of femicide and sexual violence.
  • Invest in early childhood education. Early childhood programs give children and youth a sense of normalcy and stability and help protect them against recruitment into gangs and other criminal networks. Investments should be made in early childhood education programs that teach non-violence and support the health and psychosocial care of children.
  • Promote employment generation for at-risk youth. Deep poverty and social inequality provide fertile ground for violence and crime to flourish. Increased aid and other support to the region’s governments and civil society are needed to provide viable educational opportunities, job training, and employment for youth.
  • Support national protection systems to promote policies and practices that safeguard children on the move.

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