At just 7 years old, he saw his mother die in the hands of whom until that day he shared in his home. “My hand went too far,” were the first words of the perpetrator before the Carabineros, as if there were some degree of legitimate violence, as if as an established norm it was part of a prior ritual that occasionally overflows with this devastating result.
Perhaps seeking to explain the inexcusable, those words reveal a profound reality that normalizes abuse and violence to such an extent that he despises the life of someone who was everything to his son. But the construction of this scenario is far from being isolated, since it is sustained in a collective view of violence from very early on. In our country, it is estimated that 7 out of 10 children suffer to some degree physical or psychological violence, where 1 out of 4 declares to be a victim of severe physical violence, 63% of the adults surveyed acknowledge using violent discipline methods, including aggression psychological (57%) and physical (33%). Only 1 in 3 adults admits to using non-violent methods.
When analyzing the international evidence, it has been possible to establish that a trigger at the base of the abuse is that parents or caregivers have been victims or witnesses of situations of violence during their childhood, which entails the intergenerational transmission of the damage caused by said traumatic episodes. Nearly 30,000 complaints of domestic violence occur each year, 3 out of 4 defendants are men, a similar proportion to all violent crimes.
Today we are arriving late, complaints are useless that in no way dissuade those who act under this normalization scheme. If we really want to prevent these events from destroying families and, in particular, children exposed to violence, the State must advance an agenda of early social prevention in the family, school and community, strengthening the protective elements that allow mitigating the risks in the development of problematic behaviors such as violence within homes and in neighborhoods.
It does not matter when this offer is deployed in the territory; intervening from the age of 14 is too late, since it is the parental bond or significant other who operate in the behavioral change and said bond is stronger precisely up to the age of 13. In this way, it is necessary to have a solid programmatic offer, with a focus on public and local health.
Today this offer is reduced within the State, coverage is minimal for international standard preventive programs such as Familias Unidas (from the University of Miami) and it is civil society that is advancing most vigorously in the installation of an Early Agenda for Social Prevention. The Implementation of the Guarantees Law has not had the speed required in the administrative instance with the implementation of the Local Childhood Offices, a natural space for the installation and promotion of said offer.
We hope that along with attending to the multiple needs faced by the Mejor Niñez Service, such as the waiting lists for its outpatient offer, the Children’s Undersecretary fulfills its role fully and we can stop being late. Today Cindy’s son mourns the loss of his mother, a family in Valdivia was broken and we were not able to get there sooner. We cannot continue waiting, we are responsible for him and for all the boys and girls of our Country. We have to move decisively on this agenda to change the reality that none of them should live.