By Kim Glovas

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – More than 50,000 children traveled last year from Central America to the United States to escape violence. Today, Villanova University is hosting a day-long conference on the plight of these children, many who are now living in southeastern Pennsylvania.

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The conference is titled “The Path of the Unaccompanied Minor” and looks at the legal and social responses to this dilemma.

Michele Pistone, a law professor at Villanova, says it’s a very hard decision for a family to make to allow their children to take this long and dangerous journey:

“Many of the children travel on top of trains through Mexico, and so that part of the journey alone is very treacherous. We hear that girls, about 70-percent of them, are victims of sexual violence along the way.”

Listen to the full interview with Michele Petrone on this CBS Philly podcast (trt: 4:39)…

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Domingo is 19 and attends a center city high school. He left Guatemala after his grandparents said they couldn’t afford to take care of him anymore, and traveled on top of a train for part of his journey.

“I was scared,” he says.

Pistone says when the children get into the United States, they are detained in less than desirable conditions. She adds many end up working on farms in Pennsylvania and other states.

Villanova is working to provide pro bono legal services, social services and other support to these children.

The conference begins at 10am.


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