Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Zero tolerance for the child gangs of Honduras - Telegraph: "Family life has broken down. In a country of seven million people, half the population is under 18, and hundreds of thousands of children fend for themselves. Fathers are often away, working illegally in the US. Sixty per cent of children never finish primary school, and only one in every 100 will go to university. Child physical and sexual abuse is rife. Street children often have homes to go to, but choose not to. They spend their days scavenging for survival, and their nights high after sniffing glue and paint thinner. Barefoot Jose Antonio, 11, sleeps by the bins at a busy Esso garage. He said he knows how vulnerable he is, and fears that adults will come to rape and kill him, but he will not go home. Many Hondurans see children like Jose Antonio as little more than vermin, prime targets for execution because of public outrage over child crime. The country is awash with guns, with an average of six firearms per household, and Hondurans often have more faith in summary justice that the due process of the courts. Fear of child criminals may be justified. There are four times as many gang members as police officers, and youth gangs are responsible for extortion, rape and mass murder, with some gang leaders as young as 12."