Teenage Issues

Information on some of the issues which affect young people, including teenage pregnancy, alcohol and drug use and the laws relating to them in Colombia...

Alcohol

The legal age for drinking alcohol in Colombia is 18, but more than 67 percent of the population between 12 and 17 years old have consumed alcoholic beverages and underage drinking is considered a public health issue. Despite the laws against selling alcohol to teenagers, it is still relatively easy for an under 18 to access or purchase alcohol.

Alliance +18 is a campaign that seeks to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors in the country. The initiative, which was established to address concerns about the physical and psychological harm that liquor causes in the country’s young people, encourages shopkeepers to demand proof of identity (Cédula) before selling alcohol if they are in doubt about the person’s age.

  • Alcohólicos Anónimos: Alcoholics Anonymous program with English and Spanish meetings.
    Main office at: Carrera 10a # 16-39 Of.1009, Bogotá
    Tel: (1) 2844271 / 2843428

Drugs

The most frequently consumed drug in the country is marijuana, followed by cocaine and LSD. It is well known that Colombia is one of the biggest drug producers in the world with a long history of trafficking, drug cartels and violence caused by drug abuse.

Narconon Bogotá: Drug rehabilitation program run by an international, non-religious, not-forpprofit organization.

Narcotics Anonymous: Regular Spanish-speaking NA meetings are held at various locations in Bogotá. All meetings are open.

Teenage Pregnancy

The age of sexual consent in Colombia is 14, according to article 208 of Act No. 599 of 2000 (of the current Penal Code). The sexual consent is valid as long as both people are under 18 years old. There is a high rate of teenage pregnancy in the country.

  • Further information about teenage pregnancy is available from the Ministry of Health (PDF in Spanish)

Colombia has very restrictive abortion laws, which lead to many women having an illegal abortion, threatening their life and health. An abortion can only be carried out in the following circumstances:

  • When the life or health of the pregnant woman is in danger
  • When the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest
  • When there are malformations of the foetus that are incompatible with life outside the uterus

Support Groups and Helplines

There are a number of helplines, in Spanish, available to young people in the country.

  • Red de Paz (Anti-bullying)
    email
  • Red de Paz(Helpline for suicidal people)
  • Linea Nacional de ICBF (Colombian family welfare institute) 
    Tel: 01 8000 918080
  • Linea de los niños y adolescents (Helpline for children and teenagers)
    Tel: 106

The Ministry of Education also has an online guide (in Spanish) for adolescents with information about many different topics related to youth issues.