A decades-long civil war and a powerful drug trade have shaped many Colombian’s lives over the years, forcing thousands from their homes and into poverty, violence and gang activity. In Cali, one of Colombia’s most violent cities, a large proportion of children live in extremely challenging circumstances.
With no social consensus over what constitutes violence and over the limits of physical punishment at home, thousands of children face domestic abuse on a daily basis. When it comes to drug and gang related violence, children are often caught in the crossfire or are sometimes the targets themselves. Child victims of violence in Cali have limited knowledge, let alone access to the services that should be protecting them. Many are left scared and insecure and forced to cope on their own.
Corporación para la Atención Integral de la Niñez (CORPOLATIN) was established in 2003 to provide psycho-social assistance to the children of Cali affected by violence. With the help of local authorities, CORPOLATIN set up the free ‘106’ telephone crisis helpline, through which a team of psychologists offer information and psychological support to victims. CORPOLATIN also puts children and their families in touch with the services they need including, social services, healthcare and legal aid. The crisis line has helped CORPOLATIN identify problem areas that are then addressed in their awareness and prevention campaigns.
The ‘106 crisis line’ has been a highly successful service that continues to draw phone calls thanks to its reputation as a trustworthy, confidential and safe point of recourse for vulnerable children.
Since 2003, CORPOLATIN has attended to over 128,000 inquiries, referring 6,400 cases to the competent authorities. It has helped 556,000 young people in education and guided 19,000 adult caregivers on how to identify and protect vulnerable children and young people.
Photos: Fabio Cuttica/Stars Foundation