Girls and boys from Latin America ask leaders of the G8 to combat violence
Young people from Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico share their views with the Junior G8 Forum in St. Petersburg
Mexico, 14th July 2006 - Worried about the high level of violence in their countries, children from Latin America have asked leaders of the G8 for immediate and concrete responses to eradicate this flagrant violation of their rights. In a videoconference with participants of the Junior G8 Forum in Russia, young people from Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico on Friday described how violence affects their daily lives, in their homes, in schools, in the streets and in relationships with their peers.
The Junior G8 Forum takes place in Pushkin, near St. Petersburg, involving 64 young people between the ages of 13 and 17, from the member countries of the G8. It began on the 7th of July and will continue until the 18th of July 2006. The children and adolescents are discussing the same topics as the leaders of the G8: education, energy security and HIV/AIDS. To these topics, they have added violence as a key issue.
The Junior G8 Forum is being organized jointly by the Russian Government and UNICEF. This Friday, through videoconferences, children from non-member countries of the G8 in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America were given an opportunity to share their worries, proposals and demands with the participants of the Junior G8 Forum. The Junior G8 participants will include the points raised in the videoconferences in their declaration which they will present next Sunday to the leaders of the G8. This event marks the first time that a meeting of the leaders of the G8 includes a direct dialogue and exchange with children.
The seven young people from Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico who participated in the videoconference in Mexico City have been involved in different projects with Save the Children. Some of them took part in the national consultations which took place as part of the process for the United Nations Secretary General’s Global Study on Violence against Children, which will be presented at the next General Assembly.
“I hit you because I love you”, is still a common motto for many parents in Latin America to bring up their children. School very often is no safe place for children, either, with corporal punishment still being a reality in many Latin American classrooms, the young people said.
The message to the G8
In their message to the leaders of the G8, the children and adolescents gathered in Mexico highlighted that governments have an obligation to guarantee and protect the rights of children. “They must disseminate our rights, raise awareness among people about these rights and promote their fulfillment”, said a boy from Nicaragua. Both governments and societies in general should make it their priority to develop public policies to prevent violence against children and support those who are affected by violence and its consequences. This includes legal reforms to improve the protection of children and adolescents from the different forms of violence, like corporal punishment or sexual abuse and exploitation.
According to these young Latin Americans, the three places where tolerance and non- violence should be mainly taught are: the family, the school and the community.
To combat corporal punishment in the home and in schools, the participants ask the G8 leaders to support public campaigns to raise awareness among parents and teachers of the negative impact this has on children. “This is the most humiliating way to treat us. In addition, it is a way of bringing up children which is being passed on from one generation to the next. What we learn from our parents we will carry on doing with our own children.” The participants of the videoconference in Mexico said that workshops should be organized to teach parents other ways of solving conflicts without using violence.
Combating violence should also form part of the whole education. Schools should teach values, such as tolerance, honesty and non violence, demanded the children participating in the videoconference.
They also asked for more recreational spaces to reduce violence among peers. “Many young people have nothing to do after school. This is why they sometimes show behavior such as violence”, said one girl. The young people also asked for stricter control mechanisms for cartoons and movies which often contain violent images and scenes.
The young people in Mexico highlighted as fundamental the involvement of boys, girls and adolescents in the development of these programmes which affect them. “In Nicaragua for example children represent more than half the population. They have to listen to us”, said a girl from this Central American country.
For more information:
Communication section, UNICEF Mexico: +52-55- 52 84-95-30
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