Mexico City / New York: 19 October 2011 - During a visit to Mexico in the context of a concert later today, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo visited a UNICEF-supported integrated facility that provides medical, psychological and legal assistance to children who have suffered different types of violence: the Integrated Child Protection System, known as “SAPII” for its Spanish acronym.
“When you are six or sixteen, and you have been beaten or sexually abused, your life is in shatters”, said Ms. Kidjo, who is a Benin-born international singer. “Then, what you most need is to avoid going through the trauma repeatedly in visits to various doctors, psychologists, police and prosecutors in different distant places. To give children the best possible care in these circumstances, SAPII’s specialized and integrated attention at the first point of contact is exactly what you want”, she said after visiting the facility in Mexico City’s Iztapalapa neighbourhood.
Located in the east of the megalopolis, Iztapalapa is one of the most disadvantaged in the city, with a population of nearly two million, of whom half a million are children. Almost half of its residents live in poverty, and it is the city’s borough with the highest reported incidence of domestic violence.
The SAPII was created to assist children who suffered violence. It operates within and around the Iztapalapa Paediatric Hospital, and has provided care to almost 600 children since its inception. UNICEF and its partners, working closely with Government institutions, have made this possible through advocacy and technical support, by proposing and developing inter-institutional protocols to cater for children and adolescents who suffered violence.
“The SAPII always receives us with tenderness, always with a hug or a kiss. Despite rejection by our families, here we find something very beautiful and helpful: love and understanding”, said a mother beneficiary from SAPII. The SAPII integrates specific protocols and resources from the state government’s health, social services and judicial branches, thereby ensuring holistic responses to their cases – providing essentially a one-stop shop where children can receive medical attention and psychological support, and can be interviewed by the prosecutors handing their cases. The protocol places particular emphasis on inter-disciplinary assessments. It introduces innovative and sensitive techniques for taking legal testimonies from children, and it helps prevent family separation where possible. “Now my daughter is smiling and interacting with other children again”, said another mother.
“This is an innovative approach, to respond to cases of violence against children in an integrated manner. The initial dedication of individual doctors, social workers and prosecutors, is now an official system”, said Susana Sottoli, UNICEF Representative in the country. “But we see this as just the beginning. In support of the federal and the state institutions, we are working to promote the model across the city and the country – so that we can alleviate suffering not for hundreds of children, but for tens of thousands who have suffered different forms of violence at home, at school, or in the streets”.
The SAPII’s concrete impact on the lives of children has been steadily increasing. In 2007 the hospital attended only 12 cases of violence against children. In 2010, with the SAPII being functional, it attended and followed 216 cases. The training of health, justice and social welfare personnel has enabled better detection of cases of sexual abuse and violence (53% of the cases attended in 2010), which were not identified in such proportion before. Of all the different kinds of violence attended, 61% were committed by family members and 48% occurred in the children’s own homes. Of all these cases, only one has resulted in the institutionalization of the child in a care home, while in all others, members of the child’s extended family have been identified and supported in providing appropriate care. Psycho-social monitoring has indicated a reduction of almost 50% in symptoms of emotional and other consequences on the children attended. For instance, 23 out of 39 children attended in 2010 whose schooling was negatively affected, managed to overcome these difficulties. Thanks to the joint work by UNICEF and partners, the SAPII model is now an option for authorities across the country.
For more information, please contact:
Maurizio Giuliano, UNICEF Mexico