miércoles, enero 21, 2009

Seanlon, Tomkins, Lynch, Scanlon (1998)

Seanlon, Tomkins, Lynch, Scanlon (1998). Street Children in Latin America.
The authors of this review try to look at the problematic children living in the streets face in Latin America. They follow the UNICEF’s (1986) definition of “street based” children and “home based” children meaning ones that live all the time in the street and ones that stay on the street during the day and return home at night. Other tried to find other definitions, but the UNICEF’s one was thought having Latin America in mind where up to 90% of the children have some sort of contact with the family (whereas in places like India this does not happen). The problematic of street children is enormous, some sources consider between 30 and 170 million street children in the world. Many intricate factors collide to “produce” street children, being the main one in my opinion the unequal distribution of wealth, the authors mention among others: land reform, population growth, drought, rural to urban migration, economic recession, unemployment, poverty, and violence. So these are economic, political, social and legal factors combined with lack of material and symbolical resources at the social and family levels (with histories of physical, emotional and psychological violence). Of course, these children have all kind of problems, they face physical, mental, sexual, and social violence, often leading to trauma, marginalization and assassination by death squads (most famously in Rio de Janeiro in the 1980s but still happening in all Latin America). So the problem needs a multidimensional approach, many actors such as Governmental agencies and Non-governmental organizations, and the street children themselves need to “intervene” and find creative ways beyond “rehabilitation” or victimization of the children. Some suggested solutions are to re-integrate children with their families, but this needs a reconsideration of the family as a system and ongoing support for many years to sustain the program. In Brazil the street children have started a movement (Movement of Street Children) that has pushed for new legislation and visibilization within Brazilian society. The authors show the supposedly contradiction that although Brazil has the more progressive legislation and a strong street children movement, violence, human rights abuses against children and impunity of the aggressors are still very high. But this leads me to think if violence and street children are not “functional” to the Brazilian society with its hyper-exclusion and hyper-concentration of wealth and because of this aggressors are “functional” too the overall system?

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