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Child Protection in Latin America (focus in Argentina)

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  1. Child Protection in Latin America (focus in Argentina) ISPCAN Global Institute San Diego, January 23rd, 2011 Irene Intebi Child Psychiatrist & Clinical Psychologist (Argentina) ISPCAN Presidentireneintebi@gmail.com

  2. LATIN AMERICA • Every country includes many “countries” as a consequence of large territories with diverse ethnic composition, living conditions, and deep socioeconomic disparities. This diversity can be noted not only comparing the different main cities but the urban to the rural areas of the same country as well • Characteristics of these societies: • Inequalities in income distribution associated with different levels of: • poverty • marginalization and • exclusion are the norm for high percentages of their populations • Sexism I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  3. Child Protection Systems Strengths: based on the recommendations of the CRC National legal frameworks for the protection of children mandate bodies and agencies at national, provincial/state, and municipal level to defend the children’s rights. Challenges: following the mandates of the national legislation, each province/state formulates policies and guidelines within which the municipal level agencies are to structure their activities. Decision making about developing, monitoring and implementing policies is a responsibility of municipalities that manage and coordinate service provisions. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  4. These systems of decentralization of policies and services is, on one hand beneficial because they encourage autonomy and culturally sensitive policies and services but, on the other hand they have as a downside the lack of coordination and the differences in the quality and the characteristics of each province/state activities and service provision. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011


  5. Child Protection Systems Most countries have mandatory reporting of suspected cases of child abuse and in most child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation are prosecuted. Some have specific governmental agencies and programs to deal with child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation (e.g., Brazil, Colombia) while in others the intervention relies on agencies and programs that deal with victims’ and/or human rights (e.g., Argentina) . I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  6. Child Protection Systems • Challenges: • Systems are relatively new, under resourced and poorly coordinated and do not establish the different responsibilities of the sectors involved in order to provide coherent responses. • Many professionals do not consider themselves working in systems with clear guidelines and lines of accountability to support them. • Translation of modern legislation into services and practices is a slow and full of obstacles path. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  7. ARGENTINA

  8. ARGENTINAFederation of 24 provinces and 1 autonomous city (City of Buenos Aires)2nd in size in the continent2,766,890 km2 (1,068,302 sq.mi.)Population: about 40 million (14 per km2)Population under 18 (2001): 12.2 million (32%)Education: compulsory & FREE from 5-17 yrsLiteracy rate: 97%Highly urbanized population (15.9 million in main city) I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= QX4p36lCpnM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV6FNRVaCvY I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  10. MAGNITUDE OF THE PROBLEM • The vast extension of the Argentinean territory and the political organization represent a challenge to the possibility of keeping reliable and comparable records. • There are no studies addressing the magnitude of the problem. Governmental or university funded research in the field is practically non-existent. Research depends on individuals’ or small teams’ efforts and funding opportunities. This is true not only for child abuse and neglect topics but for many other issues (related to health and social aspects) and it represents a serious handicap Argentina is facing as many researchers emigrate to be able to develop their activities. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  11. Data about sexual violence against children are scattered among the different agencies that keep records and statistics of cases, mainly the judicial system and the health care sector. • There have been very few efforts focused on discussing shared definitions of different types of child abuse to apply nationally; to adapting international ones; or to selecting measurable indicators and methods that could be useful to measure the extent of the problem; etc • In urban areas, the population is moderately aware of the problem, usually depending on the attention given to the most severe cases by the media. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  12. Population in general support the use of corporal punishment as a way to discipline children. • Little is known about the mid- and long-term effects of child abuse and few consider child abuse to be a community problem. It is seen as one involving individual families and requiring individual professional responses. • An epidemiologic investigation carried out in a small town in the Chubut province (Argentinean Patagonia) showed that 13.38% of the students aged 4-14 were suspected of suffering some type of child abuse and neglect. (Malerba et al., 2006) I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  13. In 2005, National Law # 26061 was passed. This law protects the rights of children and adolescents following the Convention on the Rights of the Child standards.Some provinces had passed their own Provincial legislation before the national law was passed and other provinces are in the process of adopting similar legal regulations I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  14. CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM • Work in-progress with “blind spots” and neglected areas • Strong differences from one province to the other • Mandatory reporting nationally • Lack of clarity and contradictions regarding on who/which agencies should intervene • Offenders NOT victims are removed from home in intrafamilial violence cases I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  15. CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM • Strengths • Legal framework based in the CRC that has been incorporated to the Argentinean Constitution • Multidisciplinary approach • Offenders NOT victims are removed from home in intrafamilial violence cases I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  16. CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM • Challenges • Lack of public health policies to address child abuse and neglect cases • Lack of awareness among policy-makers of the importance of having a policy to address this problem • Low or non-existent budgets allocated to address the problem • Lack of governmental and/or NGO resources • Lack of network and/or collaboration between authorities & professionals • Lack of reliable information about the magnitude of the problem • Lack of training opportunities for frontline workers I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  17. CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM • Challenges • Lack of specific treatment programs for victims, families and offenders • Lack of awareness among the community, and among the professionals and policy makers as well, of the mid- and long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect • “No-man’s lands” in detection and intervention procedures together with overlapping of services in some other areas (e.g., municipal or local services that perform only referral tasks) • Lack of national detection and intervention guidelines and protocols • Lack of research • Minimal preventive efforts that do not address the roots contributors to the problem I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  18. Typical response to a CAN case Referral by schools; hospitals; family members; (rarely) family itself Multidisciplinary governmental agency High risk= referral to legal system w/ or w/o treatment Low risk = referral to services Moderate risk= referral to CAN treatment program (if available) Agency has no legal authority to remove either offender or victim I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  19. CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM • Major controversies • Need to include the judicial system –civil or criminal courts- in the intervention process cases vs. a family/community-based approach exclusively. Due to bad experiences –and sometimes inadequate legal interventions- professionals do not trust effective outcomes will result of legal intervention. Solution: mandatory training of all the professionals involved in the field? • Importance of biological bonds vs. child’s wellbeing and protection. In the last years, children have been forced to either live together with or visit their offender(s) just because he/she (they) is (are) his/her (their) parents or relatives. There is no awareness that biological bonds do not exclude a caregiver’s dangerous or risky behavior. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  20. ARGENTINA MISSING CHILDREN

  21. References: www.abuelas.org.ar www.hijos-rosario.org.ar The Official Story (La Historia oficial) – movie/video I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  22. References: Bokser, M. & Guarino, M. (1992): DERECHO DE NIÑOS O LEGITAMACIÓN DE DELITOS – Ediciones Colihue – Buenos Aires (ARGENTINA) Movimiento Solidario de Salud Mental (1987): TERRORISMO DE ESTADO: EFECTOS PSICOLÓGICOS EN LOS NIÑOS – Paidós- Buenos Aires (ARGENTINA) I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  23. Background: On March 24, 1976 the military forces produced a coup d’êtat against a democratic elected government & established the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  24. Background: There were rebellions in some regions of he country (rural & urban areas). There was legislation the military Junta could apply to fight terrorism LEGALLY but, based on the Doctrine of National Security, chose ILLEGAL REPRESSION & clandestine procedures. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  25. Background: Not only people belonging to terrorist organizations were repressed. Innocent people were affected too. Anybody could be kidnapped, tortured & murdered. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  26. Method: The Missing People • Violent detentions • Clandestine imprisonment • Interrogation under torture • Murder of victims • Robbery of material belongings & properties I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  27. When?1976-1982 How many?30,000 persons (5-6 per night in ’76-’77) I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  28. Where? People were kidnapped by groups of armed forces in civilian clothes at: • Home • Work • Schools • Universities • Streets • Buses I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  29. What next? • Judges were not informed of detentions • Illegal detentions, clandestine imprisonment & interrogation under torture • Clandestine detention centers (465 concentration camps) in military & law enforcement buildings • Robbery of personal belongings & properties • Children kidnapping &/or “appropriation” I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  30. Kidnapping of babies & children was part of an organized terrorizing plan consisting of: • murders • tortures • forced “disappearance” • robbery & other crimes committed by members of the armed & law enforcement forces. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  31. How many children? 7,000 children & adolescents victimized by the kidnapping of one or two parents 450-500 babies born to missing mothers in concentration camps Only 300 documented reports Approx. 71 children identified & contacted by biological families by 2001 I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  32. In 1977 the association of Abuelas (Grandmothers) of Plaza de Mayo was constituted, dedicated specifically to claim for the return of their children to them, for the investigation of the events regarding the disappearance and the search for their disappeared children. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  33. In the ’80s the association H.I.J.O.S. was constituted, dedicated specifically to claim for Justice & their Right for their Identity, against Oblivion & Silence, and the punishment of the persons responsible both of giving & of executing the orders to kidnap persons. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  34. The children who disappeared were deprived from their identity, their religion, their right to live with their family; summarizing, of all the rights that are national and internationally recognized as their true rights. There is concrete request from their relatives: that the children who were kidnapped as a method of political repression be restored to their legitimate families. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  35. Missing children have not been abandoned: they have the right to recover their own roots and their own history, they have relatives who are constantly engaged in searching for them. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  36. What happened to children? • Some were kidnapped together with their parents • Some were born to kidnapped mothers in concentration camps. Newborns were separated imediately after birth & given to other people. Mothers were usually killed after. • Some were looked after by neighbors till they could find their relatives & return them to them. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  37. What happened to children? • Some were looked after by neighbors who couldn’t locate their relatives immediately but who took care of children until relatives were located some years later • Some were taken to the authorities as John Does & adopted. Adoptive families didn’t know where babies came from. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  38. What happened to children? • Some neighbors kept the children with them, hiding the real facts to children & preventing them from knowing their families. • Some remained with relatives of one of the parents who wouldn’t tell out of fear or out of lack of information about other side of the family. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  39. How were the children searched by their relatives? • Investigation in the Courts nationwide of all the adoptions granted since 1976, including “John Does” cases • Investigation of all cases of births registered in governmental agencies after the normal legal term for such registration had elapsed I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  40. How were the children searched by their relatives? • Since ’97, awareness creation among young people (approximately the age range of the kidnapped children) that may have doubts regarding their true identity • Awareness creation in the community, encouraging those who might have information but who kept silence, whether due to complicity or fear, to come forward. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  41. Scientific methods to identify children Grandparenthood rate With the contribution of: • Dr. Fred Allen (New York Blood Center) • American Asociation for the Advance of Science (Washington) • Dr. Mary Claire King & Dr. Cristian Orrego (Berkeley University) I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  42. Scientific methods to identify children Grandparenthood rate (allows 99.9% certainty) Blood group & RH Histocompatibility (HLA, A, B, C, DR) Identification of red globe isoenzymes Identification of plasmatic proteins Molecular fingerprint: DNA polymorphism method I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  43. Why do we consider missing children as a type of CAN? Because: • Children were abruptly separated from parents: they were not abandoned BUT stolen & illegally “appropriated” • Their true identity was hidden: their names, their birth day, sometimes their age were changed. In some cases false birth certificates were provided I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  44. Why do we consider missing children as a type of CAN? Because: • Some went through apparently legal adoptions: though authorities knew their origin, they were labeled as “John Does” • Children were murdered in kidnapping procedures • Babies were murdered together with their mothers before birth I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  45. Why do we consider missing children as a type of CAN? Because: • Pregnant women were tortured, raped & vexated • Children had to live together with & were brought up by adults who established their bonds based on the kidnapping & murder of biological parents • In most cases both the adults who kept the children & the Government tried to delete the links/bonds with their real origins I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  46. Restitution Reintegration of a baby or a child victim to his/her family by means of a lawsuit or a non-legal procedure. Action, procedure & right of a child to restore him/herself as a human being, after recovering his/her real identity, history, & family bonds. Includes the possibility of recovering from the damage inflicted by the crime. I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  47. Restitution • Where are these children? • Who are they living with? I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011

  48. Restitution • What are the effects of this forced “disappeareance” of children? • Have these children suffered or are they suffering any harm? Could they sue for reparations? Of what kind? Who should be sued? • How would this claim be based on? What legal instruments should be applied? I. Intebi – ISPCAN Global Institute- San Diego-2011