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With children, no: the situation of children in our country

According to an official report, the main consultations to Line 102 are for physical abuse and neglect. M.'s case put children's rights in the spotlight.

It's just one case among thousands. One, that makes us see a reality that may not be our own, but it exists. Increasingly,  the children of our country are suffering , and this is not something new. We can look the other way, we may think that they are isolated cases, but more and more children are living in vulnerable situations,  exposed to  violence , ill-treatment and  abuse .  

M. is 7 years old. I'm sure you saw his photo in the last few weeks, invading news channels and social networks.  M. was taken from her family , who lives in a  street situation  in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Villa Lugano, by cartonero Carlos Alberto Savanz. They say it was something he did habitually,  and we still don't know what happened during the days she was missing. However, in M.'s life this is just one more anecdote. Of very humble origin, he grew up in an environment where addiction and violence are common currency. We are not going to question the love of your parents here: it is impossible to judge from a reality so different from theirs. But M. had never had a medical check, he didn't even have a birth certificate or ID.  It was anonymous , like so many other children who live in the same conditions as her, or even worse.

 

 The queries on line 102 

For some reason, M.'s case took notoriety and made us look at that reality that hurts for a while. The situation of children in Argentina is in an increasingly worrying state:  63 per cent of children in Argentina are poor . And, in addition to poverty, abuse, violence, neglect and abuse are added.

According to an official report by Gabriel Lerner by  the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family   (Senaf)  , the main consultations on  Line 102  are for  physical abuse and neglect  . This is the free telephone service for  the promotion of children's rights , which operates in some provinces of the country, where consultations were received and advice is requested on situations of violence, as well as on procedures relating to the DNI and the Universal Allocation by Son, among other issues.

 38,619 calls  received on Line 102 were analyzed between January and September 2020. In total, there were 14,301 consultations recorded for some kind of damage exerted on boys and adolescents. The highest number of consultations were for  physical abuse (4,165) and negligence (3,698).   Then there are situations where children and adolescents witness domestic violence (2,102), other legal consultations (1,888) and situations of abandonment or absence of a responsible adult (1,715).

 Abandonment  is the fourth place of concern (12 per cent); followed by  child sexual abuse  (9.5 per cent) and  psychological abuse  (8 per cent). In addition, 559 calls were reported concerning street children, 187 cases of loss, 178 violations of the right to housing and 177 related to “escape from home”.

 

 Calls that are not made 

While these data give us a reflection of what is happening with children in our country, it is important to clarify that some situations are naturalized or hidden. For example, as 6 out of 10 children are under the poverty line, the small number of calls that refer to situations of this type is striking.  Food and housing deficiencies are underestimated  or considered “normal”. With regard to  sexual abuse ,  secrecy of the environment and manipulation of victims sometimes lead to far fewer reports than they actually exist.

 These are not just numbers : these are children and adolescents from our country, who live exposed to various kinds of violence and deprivation. Like M. there are so many more  , so many, we don't even want to think about it .  Reporting  these situations is a first step for some day some of this to begin to change.

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