26 representatives from 10 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean met in Montevideo, Uruguay, and made proposals to the authorities to face harassment and violence in virtual environments.
In the context of the International Seminar "Niñ@sur, it´s time! Free of violence against children and adolescents by 2030", held during the meeting of Niñ@sur Standing Committee of the High Level Authorities in Human Rights Meeting at MERCOSUR, representatives from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay requested the States to respect their rights, and asked them to take immediate actions to prevent and eradicate violence.
After identifying the main issues and discuss actions that States must take to protect children and adolescents, they recommended the States to ensure the respect of Child Rights, encourage the use of social media and new technologies to disseminate them, improve protection systems in each of the countries and promote compliance with the law.
Children and adolescents also highlighted the key role of families to end physical and humiliating punishment using positive discipline techniques, and demanded States to allocate budget for implementing public policies focused on children. They also requested that children and adolescents should be heard and taken into account in matters that affect them through the creation of Advisory Councils.
This space of participation developed during meetings of MERCOSUR, a regional body of integration between countries in South America, was driven by the Global Movement for Children in Latin America and the Caribbean (MMI-LAC) through coordination carried out by Save the children, and children and adolescents organizations integrated into REDNNYAS. The MMI-LAC supported both civil society and children organizations to advocate with the authorities and be active actors of the discussions with States.
Santiago Cruz, an adolescent representative from Bolivia, was elected by the other children to present the mainrecommendations for preventing violence against children and adolescents in the press conference with Marta SantosPais, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Santiago demanded "to increase the budget for children and adolescents, especially for laws and policies. If we care about the violence we must invest in eliminating it".
During the meeting , he also emphasized several issues about violence in Bolivia that can no longer be tolerated "childrenliving in the streets and have no family, nor can they go to school and are victims of extreme violence; adolescents in conflict with the law reach a justice system that is not fair, it is very punishing; and girls who become pregnant when they are very small".
Daniela Meza, adolescent representative of Peru, took part in the discussion on migrant children to promote proper treatment, to have specialized personnel and to use adequate tools to protect children and adolescents in situations of human mobility. "A child or teenager who migrate from their country is because he or she is the victim of a violent situation and the child is vulnerable, therefore needs the support and acceptance of the competent authorities of the country that receives him or her, taking into consideration the Best Interest of the Child as stated in the International Convention on the Rights of the child," Daniela said.
Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, attended the event and shared the concern over violence in virtual environments that affects children and adolescents. Therefore, she expressed interest in supporting the joint work between States, children and adolescents, civil society organizations and agencies to achieve changes and promote non-violent spaces.
Finally, civil society organizations, children and adolescents themselves will follow up with States to fulfill commitments.