Information on some of the issues which affect young people including teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug use and the laws surrounding them in Panama...
Teenagers and Alcohol
The legal drinking age in Panama is 18. In practice, underage drinking is common. However, police may impose heavy fines on young people caught drinking or buying alcohol.
Alcoholics Anonymous Panama: There are several English-speaking meetings in Panama City and Chiriquí province for teenagers for whom alcohol has become a problem.
Teenagers and Drugs
Panama has severe penalties for drug-related offenses. Merely being in the company of someone who is using drugs can be grounds for arrest. Possession of even small quantities can lead to prison sentences of up to 15 years.
The High Court for Children and Adolescents (Tribunal Superior de Niñez y Adolescencia) provides orientation for teens with substance abuse problems and refers young people with drug problems to government centers and other support groups.
- For further information: Click here (in Spanish)
La Fundación Teen Challenge is an organization whose aim is to prevent drug abuse among young people. They have ten locations around the country.
- Fundación Teen Challenge
Tel: 211 2017 / 211 2790
Hogares CREA runs treatment and rehabilitation centers in the provinces of Panama, Veraguas and Coclé.
- Hogares CREA website (in Spanish)
The Panamanian White Cross (La Cruz Blanca Panameña) is a non-profit organization providing services to the community. The focus of the Panamanian chapter is to prevent and treat drug abuse in youths and young adults.
- Panamanian White Cross
Tel: 394 3002 / 394 3004
Teenagers and Sexual Health
The legal age of consent in Panama is 18.
Panama's Family Planning Association (Asociacion Panameña para el Planeamiento de la Familia - APLAFA) is the only non-governmental organization specializing in adolescent sexual health in Panama.
- APLAFA (in Spanish)
- For general information on the availability of contraception, see the INFOrmation Page on Family Planning
Teenage pregnancy rates are high compared to many western countries.
Abortion is illegal in Panama except in cases of rape or incest, or if the life of the pregnant woman is at risk. For more information see the section on Termination/Abortion in Panama.
Casa Hogar Luisa Mc Grath aims to address teen pregnancy issues and prevents abortion. It has a group home for teenage mothers, provides shelter for mothers during their pregnancy and provides training in parenting and independent living. It also assists female victims of abuse, rape, incest or abandonment.
- Hogar Luisa Mc Grath
Tel: 215 1124
Support for Teenagers
"Tu Línea" is a hotline set up by the Ministry of Social Development (Ministerio de Desarrollo Social - MIDES). The hotline provides general support to children, adolescents, men and women, people with disabilities, and the elderly. However the main purpose of the hotline is to report cases of child abuse, sexual abuse, labor exploitation and domestic violence and abuse.
Tel: 147 Monday to Friday from 06:00-18:00, Saturday 06:00-12:00