Nearly 10 thousand minors killed in 2016 in Venezuela

Venezuela, home to the deadliest city in the world, experienced the homicides of nearly 10,000 underaged individuals in 2016, and 35 percent of homicide victims were under the age of 20.

These statistics were published this week by the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, an NGO that tracks violent crime in the country. The Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional noted that the NGO found 9,113 people between the ages of 15 and 20 were killed last year, while another 854 people under the age of 15 died in “violent circumstances.”

The newspaper also compared these statistics to those of years past: in 2007, 1,200 minors were victims of homicide nationwide. In 1997 — shortly before the rise of socialist president Hugo Chávez — that number was 440. 

The growing scarcity of food and basic goods in the country has led to skyrocketing crime rates, many crimes which involve attacks on children. “If I have a conflict that I cannot resolve through regular channels, like dialogue, I look for the way to hit where it hurts most: using children,” explains Fernando Pereira of the NGO Cecodap, noting that criminals have increasingly targeted children for kidnapping and attacks. “Children are easier because minors are easy to subdue and intimidate.” 

Minors themselves are also engaging in greater amounts of criminal activity. Cecodap found a 12.5 percent increase in the number of crimes committed by female adolescents in 2015, though boys under 18 are still responsible for 78 percent of crimes in their age group. “Girls are using violence in greater numbers to survive,” Pereira explained.