Unleashed adultism?

November 15, 2019
Communications Colunga Foundation

What began as a protest by secondary school students against the rise in passages in the Santiago Metro, became one of the largest social manifestations that Chile has lived in times of democracy. “These and these teenagers, in the exercise of their rights, were able to organize and express themselves freely, to serve as a mirror and a push to the rest of society,” says the public statement of the Ombudsman for Children, where all the powers of the State are challenged to generate efficient and effective mechanisms that allow us to attend the opinion of children and adolescents (children and adolescents) in our country.

At present, more than 1.2 billion adolescents live in the world, and nine out of ten do so in developing countries, bypassing daily great challenges, such as access to quality education, prevention of teenage pregnancy and / or HIV, find decent work opportunities, consequences of pollution and climate change, and, above all, be able to express their opinions and be heard, as indicated by the UNICEF document  "Overcoming adultcentrism".

The State of the World's Children in 2011 I already warned that it is the children of today who will have to face the intergenerational consequences of the crises of the current economic model, including structural unemployment; the aging of societies; environmental degradation; the dynamics of migration and humanitarian crises.

Breaking down myths: a new look at childhood and youth

In October, at Fundación Colunga, we had the visit of María Jesús Rosado, expert in analysis of social reality and President of the iS + D Foundation for Advanced Social Research in Madrid. During a talk, organized by the Hogar de Cristo, The Spanish sociologist shared with her assistants her experience as a researcher in social satisfaction measurement, but her vision on childhood was clear: "With the little ones we have adopted enlightened despotism." For her, our society has an important flaw in terms of social indicators, especially because, in her own words, "childhood is not heard". However, he urged to generate measurement experiences in this area, as he considers it absolutely necessary. "The little ones express themselves in a thousand wonders and, in addition, I think it would be extraordinary to complement many of the issues that adults are not even able to verbalize," he warned.

However, we can find some efforts that are being made to change the way children and young people are seen. One of the pioneers in promoting this new look has been Edwin María John, leader of the United Nations and recognized international activist for children's rights, who has motivated one of the most important movements in recent times in India: Children's Parliaments . They group more than 200,000 girls and boys organized at the neighborhood level, and federalized at different levels: locality, town, city, state and country. These parliaments have achieved great achievements, from stopping child marriages, reintegrating girls and boys to schools, health campaigns, bridge construction, among others.

In Chile, the Little School Cecilia Arrieta de Peñalolén participated with 50 children and adolescents in the first pilot of the Children's Parliament in Chile with Edwin Maria John, invited to Chile by Fundación Colunga.

Without a doubt, as a society we are called to attend the opinion of children and adolescents, looking for innovative and effective mechanisms of participation, according to their levels of development and capacity.

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