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At a glance: El Salvador

UNICEF ‘mini-reporters’ help launch anti-violence campaign in El Salvador

© UNICEF video
Diego, 12, and Alejandro, 8, are two of UNICEF’s ‘mini-reporters’ in El Salvador.

By Amy Bennett

NEW YORK, USA, 19 January 2007 – No one is better qualified to report on children’s issues than children themselves. This was the idea behind the UNICEF-supported ‘mini-reporters’ news show in El Salvador, a pilot created to showcase children’s points of view on issues they face.

Youth journalists Diego Gabriel Figueroa, 12, and Alejandro Falla, 8, were chosen for this special task.

Diego and Alejandro took the opportunity to cover UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira’s visit to El Salvador to help launch a campaign against violence. The boys wrote all the questions themselves and then, with a little supervision, went out to file their report.

A growing problem

Violence among adolescents is an ongoing problem in the country, and effective mechanisms do not currently exist to deal with it adequately. El Salvador ranks among the countries with the world’s highest levels of social violence.

The young people interviewed by Diego and Alejandro on the streets of the capital, San Salvador, were frustrated about the problem.

“Violence is only the way in which people express their resentments towards society, their sorrow, when they can't express it in other ways,” one student told the mini-reporters.

“On TV we see many types of violence,” said another young man. “We see shootings, we see people beating each other and that is what children try to do – because when one is small one imitates everything one sees.”

© UNICEF video
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira appeared in a public service announcement as part of the Salvadoran anti-violence campaign launch.

Marching against violence

After the UN Secretary-General released a detailed report on violence against children last fall, many countries stepped up with their own national campaign launches. In San Salvador last November, the campaign began with a march by more than 8,000 children and adolescents – including 6,000 students and 2,300 scouts.

On the day of the march, Diego and Alejandro interviewed many young people about the campaign and also spoke to El Salvador’s Minister of Education, Darlyn Meza. “We believe it’s a campaign that will allow us to wake up the country, to wake up the children, the youths, the adults – everybody,” she said.

The march ended at the Sports Palace, where Shakira spoke to the gathered crowd.

Interview with Shakira

Then, in the style of some of the best journalists around, mini-reporter Diego approached Shakira backstage and requested an interview. She agreed.

“What can we as children do to avoid violence?” Diego asked the world-famous singer and songwriter.

“Getting an education is one of the basic keys to our future,” Shakira replied. “Continue dreaming because dreams can come true, and never resort to violent means. Non-violent people have many more possibilities of achieving good and important things in life. I have come to tell you that there are other choices.”




November 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Amy Bennett reports on youth journalists in El Salvador covering the launch of the anti-violence campaign there.
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Watch a public service announcement with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira raising awareness about violence against children.
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