(CNN) — At least 30,000 children in Mexico are involved in some sort of organized crime, according to a nationwide alliance of civic and social organizations.

The Child Rights Network in Mexico says many of these children are taking part because of death threats or because of economic and social necessity. It is urging the government to start recognizing them as victims of child abuse.

“The drug cartels are not training them to be ringleaders,” spokeswoman Veronica Morales said. “It is a new form of abuse in which they are being used to commit an offense, to violate the law and to deceive authorities.”

In the past year, there have been numerous headlines of children being arrested in Mexico.

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