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Costa Rica celebrates Children’s Day with steps to protect kids

Costa Rica last week celebrated Children’s Day with new resources meant to help the country’s kids.

The government signed into law a project to protect minors from sexual crimes committed electronically.

The law expands the Criminal Code to include prison of up to nine years for those who “maintain or promote the corruption of a minor or incapable person for erotic, pornographic or obscene purposes … even if the minor or incapable person consents to it.”

“We take a step forward in protecting our children and adolescents against the scourge of grooming, a criminal practice through which unscrupulous people take advantage of the vulnerability of minors to exploit them sexually,” said President Carlos Alvarado.

Costa Rica is also opening 14 shelters to protect children against situations of violence.

Six of these installations are already in operation in La Uruca, Tibás, Pavas, Los Guido, Turrúcares and Hatillo. The other eight will soon be opened in Alajuela, Guanacaste, Limón, Puntarenas and Heredia, the Presidency says.

The shelters offer educational programs and activities to promote social and emotional development, especially among migrant children and other vulnerable populations.

“Safe spaces make it easier for migrant and national children and adolescents to find a place in the community of protection, foster care and learning, under the supervision of social educators and community leaders,” said Patricia Portela, the UNICEF representative for Costa Rica.

“They are also referred to the social services they need such as educational centers, health posts and others.”

UNICEF reported last week that one in three children in Costa Rica lives in poverty. This situation has been exacerbated by the limitations to education and rising unemployment provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We must address the impact that this situation has and will have on educational exclusion and on the social and economic development of the country,” UNICEF stressed.

The featured photo, from 2015, shows a child walking down the street in Costa Rica. Photo is for illustrative purposes only.

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