Monday, February 23, 2015

Unaccountable "Free Range Kids" Activists Reach Peru


Peru Seeks Remedies to Entrenched Violence Against Children

LIMA – Beatings and other forms of mistreatment to discipline children are widely accepted in Peru and activists say it is vital to amend current law that effectively condones violent punishment.

It is common to see parents yell at their children on the bus or drag them out violently if they misbehave at a restaurant, and bystanders are generally unwilling to intervene in what is considered a family problem.

“This is a country where authority is imposed by force and not by reason and this is replicated in daily relationships, but the way parents use their power causes fear and submission,” Ana Maria Marquez, program director for Save the Children in Peru, told Efe.

“Another factor is the lack of recognition of the child as a person with rights,” she said.

An Ipsos survey published by El Comercio newspaper found that 73 percent of respondents had been beaten by their parents or another adult, while 57 percent had witnessed violence against children within their families.

Third-party intervention led recently to two arrests for child abuse.

A Lima man was detained after he smashed his 6-year-old stepson’s nose into a car seat because the child had a tantrum. Police in the southern region of Ica arrested a mother that beat her 2-year-old daughter while bathing her outdoors.

In the first case, a young woman posted photos of the violent stepfather on social networks. In the second a neighbor, shocked by the continued aggression against the girl, recorded the incident with her cellphone and gave the footage to the media.

“We need to raise awareness about this problem,” Matilde Cobeña, an assistant director in the national ombudsman’s office for children and adolescents, told Efe.

“We have been raised in violence, it is a practice entrenched in society and culture, it is accepted,” she said.

The mistreatment of children by their parents “is not a private matter, it is a public matter and anyone who knows of a case should report it, but we don’t do it,” Cobeña said.

The official said the United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Child has asked Peru to ban “physical and humiliating punishment of children and adolescents everywhere.”

Cobeña said current Peruvian law establishes the right of parents to use “moderate correction” with their children.

Five bills have been introduced in Congress seeking to eliminate violence against children.

Currently 44 countries – eight of them in Latin America – have legislation banning corporal punishment of children.


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