The Challenge

Unwanted children, broken homes, fatherless, day to day existence, abuse, uneducated, illiterate, hungry, desperate, slum dwellers, recyclers, overcrowding, homeless, unemployed, seeking love, grime, filth, displaced, victims, thieves, violence, survival. These are just some words that describe the children and families that we serve. The statistics below are taken from a document compiled by “The People’s Advocate”, the official human rights organization of the Colombian government, in 1998 and 2013, Unicef 2006 and 2013 , ICBF 2006, and various Colombian news sources 2013.

The Bronx

The Bronx, one of the most dangerous areas Formando Vidas reaches


Total number of minors under 18 years 16,233,000, 41.5 % of the population. 6,500,000 live in situations classified as below the poverty level or 38.9% Of these, there are 17.5% or 1,137,500 boys and girls living in absolute poverty.

Population Overview

Abused Children

Approx. 2,000,000 boys and girls are said to be abused annualy. It is calculated that of these 876,000 that are severely abused, the majority are between 5 and 14 years old. (Colombian family welfare department)  There is no answer from the state for this problem.

Working boys and girls

1,700,000 youth between 12 and 17 and 800,00 boys and girls between 6 and 11 years are working. 80% work in the informal sectors. Close to 50% of the children working between 12 and 13 years old do not receive income. The 50% of the youth between 14 and 17 years do not receive the equivalent of half the minimum wage.

Pregnancy in Adolescents

In 1998, more than 20% of the women under 19 years of age were pregnant or mothers. The education level of these women is low; only 30% have finished primary school. Abortion is the 3rd highest cause of maternal death and the 2nd highest cause of hospitalization.


12 children die daily: 5 are murdered, 3 in traffic accidents, 1 commits suicide, and 3 in other types of accidents.

Physical Abuse

In one year, 9,500 cases of physical abuse and 9,300 cases of sexual abuse are investigated. Last year alone(2013) in Colombia 16,457 children we taken into ICBF because of abuse, 4,172 of them in Bogotá.


It is calculated that close to 30,000 youth are facing charges for breaking the law.


Every two days a child is kidnapped


Today, 30 of every 100 children of preschool age attend school and only 60 of every 100 that start primary school finish their primary education.  More than 2,500,000 children work in dangerous conditions and of them, only 3 attend school.  35% of the children who complete the 3rd grade are literate. Only 47% of children between 12 and 17 attend high school, of them 84% live in urban areas.  Only 30% finish 9th grade

Children in Armed Conflict

The information below comes from investigations in 1996 until1998 but because of the difficulties involved in directly talking to the children the following information is approximated. 18% of those minors that were interviewed had killed at least once 60% have seen someone killed. 78% have seen bodies mutilated 25% had seen someone been kidnapped 13% had been kidnapped 18% has seen someone tortured 40% had fired a gun at someone at least once 28% had been injured.

Colombia has begun programs to help children coming out of armed conflict. From 1999 until 2013 5,120 children were rescued or escaped.

Sexual Abuse

The extent of this type of abuse is not exactly known: very few victims denounce sexual abuse due to the social, psychological, moral and shameful nature of implications. The highest at risk group are boys and girls between 5 and 15 years old. 70 to 80% of the sexual abuse is committed by persons known, trusted or loved by the victim. Between 1986 and 1998 the number of boys and girls sexually exploited has increased by more than 600%. Generally these children have been victims of abuse in the home, abandoned, sexually abused, and neglected by the education system which is incapable of receiving them again.

In 2013 11.333 children reported sexual abuse.

Children Displaced Due to Violence

In the last 10 years, due to the internal violence in the country, 700,000 children have been displaced.