Maltrato infantil

Al niño de nueve años no le gustaba la escuela. No le caían bien los demás niños porque sabía quiénes eran en realidad: infieles malvados que merecían la muerte. Así que actuó conforme al adiestramiento que había recibido y los atacó. De inmediato lo sacaron del edificio el primer día de su regreso a la escuela.

Este niño había pasado dos años lejos de su patria europea, en un sitio donde, para enseñarle a contar, practicaban con los azotes que le daban en la espalda a una víctima de tortura y donde el programa escolar incluía ser testigo de decapitaciones públicas.…  Seguir leyendo »

In early February, I traveled to Diffa in southeastern Niger to better understand the impact of Boko Haram on the people living there. The Diffa region alone currently hosts over 240,000 internally displaced persons, refugees and returnees, including 160,000 children.

I’ve been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for almost 10 years, and this isn’t the first time I have seen and heard about terrible suffering, but the devastating stories I heard from children in Niger will haunt me for a long time to come.

Boko Haram violence has affected millions of children and families across West Africa’s Lake Chad Basin — Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon.…  Seguir leyendo »

Gordon Brown says the educational needs of refugee children are forgotten.

Nearly one hundred years ago, Eglantyne Jebb, the founder of Save the Children, said that the only international language the world understands is the cry of the child.

But our adult world has been unmoved, as 30 million children — 7 million of them in the last year alone — have been displaced from their homes in Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Burundi and Myanmar in an exodus of biblical proportions.

Not since the end of World War II have so many children of so many different nationalities and in so many different territories been caught up in refugee crises. This week’s Oslo Summit on Education for Development, led by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, alongside U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »

Images last week from an ISIS video appearing to show a child executing a hostage were horrific. The very idea of the “cubs of the caliphate,” as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria dubs them, is stomach-churning.

But ISIS is far from the first or only group to treat children in such a wretched way. There are tens of thousands of child soldiers under age 18 around the world, from South America to Africa to Southeast Asia to recent conflicts in the Balkans. The Kony2012 video that went viral, for example, featured children in the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda.…  Seguir leyendo »

Slavery’s Shadow on Switzerland

Two months ago, I discovered that my grandmother, Ida, had been a verdingkind, or “contract child,” in Switzerland in the 1890s.

A transcript from the archives in Teuffenthal, a small village south of Bern, the capital, confirmed that Ida, an orphan, had been contracted as an unpaid domestic servant to a woman in a neighboring village. The Swiss authorities used the nine-year-old’s meager inheritance to pay the woman 120 Swiss francs a year; Ida’s seven-year-old brother, Fritz, was made to pay 70 Swiss francs to fund his hardscrabble life as a farmhand. They both “had the appearance of being very hungry,” the document chillingly noted.…  Seguir leyendo »

La reformadora social británica, Eglantyne Jebb, puntualizó alguna vez que el único lenguaje internacional que el mundo entiende es el llanto de un niño. Casi un siglo después de que Jebb fundara Save the Children, el Premio Nobel de la Paz de 2014 fue concedido a Malala Yousafzai, la activista de diecisiete años que desde hace tiempo lucha por el derecho de las niñas a la educación, y al oponente al trabajo infantil, Kailash Satyarthi. De este modo, el Comité del Premio Nobel recompensó la lucha mundial de los derechos civiles contra el tráfico de menores, el trabajo infantil, el matrimonio de menores y la discriminación de niñas.…  Seguir leyendo »

After my older brother fell ill from the stress of being a student in South Korea, my mother decided to move me from our home in Seoul to Vancouver for high school to spare me the intense pressure to succeed. She did not want me to suffer like my brother, who had a chest pain that doctors could not diagnose and an allergy so severe he needed to have shots at home.

I was fortunate that my mother recognized the problem and had the means to take me abroad. Most South Korean children’s parents are the main source of the unrelenting pressure put on students.…  Seguir leyendo »

When I was 13, living in the outskirts of Nanjing, my math teacher molested all the girls in our class, including me. Under the pretense of checking my work, he would lean over me, his face so close that I could smell his garlic breath, and he’d move his hand up my shirt, touching my chest.

Apart from trying to avoid him, we didn’t take any action. We knew what he was doing was wrong, but it never occurred to us to report him. A teacher in a Chinese classroom holds tremendous authority over students, and we didn’t even know the term “sexual abuse.” Most of us made it through the trauma, except for his main target, a plump girl who dropped out of school before she turned 14.…  Seguir leyendo »

When Iraqi voters go to the polls tomorrow they are likely to endorse parties that plan to legalise child marriage at nine years old. Based on Shia Islamic jurisprudence, what is called the Ja’afari personal status law was approved by the current Iraqi cabinet eight weeks ago. It describes girls as reaching puberty at nine, and therefore ready for marriage. The current legal age is 18.

This barbaric and regressive law would grant fathers sole guardianship of their female children from the age of two, as well as legalising marital rape. It has horrified Iraqi women and they publicly declared last month’s International Women’s Day an Iraqi day of mourning in response to the worrying developments.…  Seguir leyendo »

El episodio más trágico que les pueda suceder a padres primerizos es la muerte repentina e inesperada de su bebé. Lo único que tal vez pueda resultar peor es que a los padres se los acuse erróneamente de provocar la muerte y sean procesados, debido a una mala interpretación de la investigación por parte de la comunidad médica.

Un pequeño número de bebés que sufren un colapso y mueren inesperadamente en su primer año de vida tienen uno o más de los siguientes tres síntomas en común: un sangrado por fuera del cerebro (hemorragia subdural), un sangrado en la parte posterior del ojo (hemorragia retinal) y una inflamación del cerebro.…  Seguir leyendo »

One year ago, Taliban gunmen in Pakistan boarded a school van and shot Malala Yousafzai, then 15, for speaking out for girls’ education. Malala survived the tragedy, and her courageous story of a teenage girl who would not be silenced inspired tens of millions more in the fight for girls’ rights.

As Malala said in July during her historic address at the United Nations, “I raise up my voice — not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.”

And as the world marks International Day of the Girl on Friday, it is worth remembering all those young girls, the same age as Malala and some even younger, whose voices go unheard: the millions of child brides around the world robbed of their youth and their rights, including the chance at education.…  Seguir leyendo »

Nine-year-old Jean has lost almost all of his sight. His condition started when he was very young and progressively got worse. After several visits to a local healer, his parents took him to a medical doctor in the city hospital. They were asked to pay $120 for a surgical procedure to restore Jean’s sight. Unable to afford the fees, they abandoned his treatment.

Now, Jean is left with minimal vision in just one eye. Living in an urban community in Togo, he pulled out of school two years ago as he could no longer navigate his way without assistance. He is routinely harassed by other children and adults in the community for his disability.…  Seguir leyendo »

During the Great Recession, child abuse and neglect appeared to decline. Incidents reported to local authorities dropped. “The doom-and-gloom predictions haven’t come true,” Richard Gelles, a child-welfare expert at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Associated Press in 2011.

The real story about child maltreatment during the recession is a grim one. I spent months studying this topic, using a number of different data sources, including Google search queries. I found that the Great Recession caused a significant increase in child abuse and neglect. But far fewer of these cases were reported to authorities, with much of the drop due to slashed budgets for teachers, nurses, doctors and child protective service workers.…  Seguir leyendo »

The world’s newest and youngest liberation movement will make its presence felt at a summit in Washington this week. The Common Forum for Kalmal Hari Freedom, the Nilphamari Child Marriage Free Zone, the Ugandan Child Protection Club, the Upper Manya Krobo Rights of the Child Club and Indonesia’s Grobogan Child Empowerment Group may not yet be household names outside their own countries, but schoolgirls demanding an end to child labor, child marriage and child trafficking — and inspired by the sacrifice of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot for wanting to go to school — are borrowing the tactics of the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

The files released last week by America’s largest Catholic archdiocese revealed new and disturbing details about how church officials schemed to protect priests accused of molesting children. But was the scandal in Los Angeles really so much worse than in other places?

Sadly, no. The details emerging from the documents mirror what happened in archdioceses across the country, as church officials time and again put their own concerns above the needs of victims.

One of the earliest cases to draw nationwide attention involved Gilbert Gauthe, a priest who raped dozens of boys in rural Louisiana. By 1984, when Gauthe was indicted on 34 counts of sex crimes against children, church officials had been aware he was abusing children for at least a decade.…  Seguir leyendo »

One cannot choose to not be a pedophile, but one can choose to not be a child molester.

As details of the accusations of sexual abuse emerged from the Jerry Sandusky trial, and as the public looks on with horror, a central element to the case that has received scant attention is pedophilia itself.

“Pedophilia” was long used as a synonym for “child molestation,” and both were often seen as psychological failures of self-control. Child molesters were thought to be acting out their own histories of abuses, reacting to fears of adult relationships, or manifesting a symptom that might be resolved in psychotherapy, after which they would no longer be pedophilic.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Monday the media were allowed to name the teenager Daniel Bartlam, who bludgeoned his mother, Jacqueline, to death with a hammer last year at the age of 14 years. Such acts are assumed to be uncommon but occurrences are more frequent than we might think. In the United States where guns are more widely available, a parent is killed by their own child almost every day.

Research suggests that children who commit this act fall into one of three categories: the severely mentally ill child; the dangerously antisocial child; and – by far the most common, in over 90% of cases according to one study – the severely abused child who is pushed beyond his or her limits.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dhaki is from the southern region of Ethiopia. At age 13, instead of going to school, Dhaki was marrried and tended cattle for her family. Her husband, 11 years older than she, regularly forced himself on her. Her nightly cries were ignored by her neighbors, and she was shunned by her community for not respecting the wishes of her husband.

Sadly, millions of girls worldwide have little or no choice about when and whom they marry. One in three girls in the developing world is married before she is 18 – one in seven before she is 15. The reasons for child marriage vary: Custom, poverty and lack of education all play a part.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman calls 911 to report that a baby in her care has gone limp. Rescue workers respond immediately, but the infant dies that night. Though there are no external injuries or witnesses to any abuse, a jury convicts the woman of shaking the baby to death.

More than 1,000 babies a year in the United States are given a diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome. And since the early 1990s, many hundreds of people — mothers, fathers and babysitters — have been imprisoned on suspicion of murder by shaking. The diagnosis is so rooted in the public consciousness that, this year, the Senate unanimously declared the third week of April “National Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Week.”

Yet experts are questioning the scientific basis for shaken baby syndrome.…  Seguir leyendo »

Beliefs in witchcraft and other occult forces are widespread in Africa, as they are in many other parts of the world. Animist beliefs consider death, disease, crop failure and other disasters not as natural occurrences, but as the result of the activities of supernatural powers. Families commonly consult traditional healers who divine the cause of the calamity. In some cultures, spirits are held responsible, while in others, individuals are identified as witches and blamed for the misfortune. Usually old and marginalized persons are scapegoated, but in recent years there have been increased reports of children, even toddlers, being accused of witchcraft in parts of Africa.…  Seguir leyendo »