Article El Mercurio | UDP report: "establishing standards" for residences and programs that serve children is key

November 21, 2018
Communications Colunga Foundation

Andrea Chaparro
The Mercury

We rescue this interesting article from El Mercurio, about the Universal Children's Day: 

The lawyer Ester Valenzuela exemplifies: "When you build roads or meters nobody says we have $ 400 million, but everyone looks at technical standards to not put people at risk" and with childhood should do the same, because "it has been seen that Life is at risk ". 

Every year the Diego Portales University makes a report on Human Rights, divided into chapters. One of them, analyzes the main events that took place between July 2017 and July 2018 in terms of the rights of children and adolescents. It includes the revision of judgments, bills, indications, offices, regulations, public policies and other facts of social connotation, which have given rise to reactions from the various branches of the State, as in the case of the National Agreement on Children.

President Sebastián Piñera put the expression "children first" in his speech to convey the priority he would give to children in his administration and this week the legislative discussion focused on the elimination of the Family Commission of the Chamber of Deputies to the financing of a short law -propulsed by the Government- that sought to increase the fiscal contribution to the collaborating agencies of Sename.

The researchers of the house of studies, the teachers Ester Valenzuela and Macarena Arismendi, address these and other matters, although with respect to subsidies - they clarify - the chapter was closed before the recent setback in the Congress of the initiative related to private residences.

Statement of intents

Among the conclusions of the UDP report is a reflection that links the political discourse with the improvements that can be seen specifically in the living conditions of minors under the care of the State.

And, on that, warns the report: "It is questionable the affirmation that the children and adolescents are first, since in spite of the numerous legislative initiatives, plans and public policies addressed to them, until now, it is not possible to affirm that Infringements on children's issues in Chile have been improved or rectified. "

- We speak of advancing towards a direct total administration or only of hardening the supervision of the private ones?

-That's more of a political ideology. There is a sector of the country that says that everything must be administered by the State and another that feels that the great majority should be in the hands of private companies. I personally, says Valenzuela, believe in a mixed system, which is also what international experience shows, with a State that will be the guarantor of adequate supervision. That supervision, whether or not it has to be from the State, can not be left to private hands without that supervision.

The problem of the short law

The chapter also criticizes the activity carried out by the authority in different areas related to childhood "while insisting on increasing subsidies, international experience indicates that it is necessary to establish standards for the operation of residences and programs that serve children and adolescents who have been violated in their rights, all under strong supervision of the State. "

The academic states that in the case of an increase in grants it is key to ensure that the recipients of these funds will be children and sets an example with the 80 bis, which is the article that allows the courts to order an overload to receive a child in a center.

Explains that "the State must pay the excess of children and that is not paid, there is a super important debt in this regard, and there the collaborating organizations are doing magic to cover those other quotas. Excessive time has passed and the grant has not arrived for them. So when increasing the subsidy, that will hopefully be to cover that debt that the State has ". Therefore, he points out, it is important that there is real supervision of how these funds will be spent.

According to the report, currently there would be approximately 2,307 minors in residences of direct administration and 9,673 in residential centers, for which the State should cover all of their needs in accordance with standards set by the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. (CIDN) and the different international human rights treaties ratified by Chile, a question that does not happen.

Eliminate "punitive optics"

The UDP report also addresses the case of adolescent offenders. In relation to them, it concludes that it is "essential to keep in mind that they come from contexts of vulnerability, of multisystemic poverty, for this reason it is necessary to take charge from a perspective that considers their situation from the perspective of rights of childhood and adolescence and not to privilege the punitive optics, through the hardening of sentences. "

And, the report states, "it is necessary to include the gender perspective in the reflection. There are many problems that imply a distinction between boys and girls ". One example, says Valenzuela, is when minors are victims of sexual crimes, given that most of them are girls and adolescents.

- What is the key, the first thing to tackle, in the matter of childhood?

-We have to start talking about standards and I always give as an example that when you build roads or meters nobody says we have $ 400 million to build this, but everyone looks at technical standards to not put at risk people who are going to climb to that metro or that they are going to walk along that highway. In this issue of residences and public policies of childhood has also been seen that life is at risk, then I do not understand why this country has not started talking about standards.

In addition, he says, "we speak of nine thousand, which at most may vary to 11 thousand, and that means we have not been able to take care of a limited number of children."

Little will: "In practice there has been no real prioritization at the time of reinstating their rights (...) It does not reflect a real political will to provide a definitive solution" - Excerpt from the Human Rights report of the UDP. 

Gender Perspective: "It is necessary to include a gender perspective in the reflection and analysis of children's rights. There are many problems that imply a distinction between boys and girls "- Excerpt from the Human Rights Report of the UDP. 

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