During this month of April, recognized as the month of childhood and the prevention of abuse in our country, the president of the College of Social Work Professionals of Puerto Rico (CPTSPR), Dr. Mabel López Ortiz, made a call to reflect on the different factors that affect child abuse and how to prevent it.
“Our children and young people have experienced the effects of hurricanes, earthquakes, pandemic and fiscal crisis that contextualize their lives. In a country where more than 50% of families with daughters and sons live in poverty, it is an ethical imperative to ask ourselves where we have been lacking, and not from a discourse of lack of traditional values or traditional upbringing, but from a human rights perspective, ”said López Ortiz.
López Ortiz indicated that “the prevention of child abuse implies total support for our childhood and youth, for future citizens of the country in relation to the stability and quality of life that any child or young person deserves and requires as a social right. This stability of being able to develop and have full access to their physical, emotional and social life ”.
Prevention is the key to being able to teach and educate citizens of the possibility, of contributing to the life of an individual and of a better country.
The risk factors for child and youth abuse are various.
“The issue of interpreting that children and young people are not subjects of law, is an ideology that is in our society that somehow can lead to thinking as an adult to be the controller and have the responsibility to control this child without treating him from a point of view or an idea of being a social subject of law and with respect and dignity as he deserves it, ”said the president of the Puerto Rico Association of Social Work Professionals.
Other factors are economic tensions, conflicts of intrafamily violence, lack of knowledge of the healthy management of relationships between parents and adults, “that together with the situations of social complexity that we live that somehow contributes to that violence or generates an issue of domestic violence”.
Signs of abuse
Child abuse is physically remarkable. “A child who has physical indicators of having been beaten; withdrawn; to show extremely aggressive and courageous behaviors ”, explained the doctor.
This could have negative consequences on the development of the child.
“More than anything in their safety and physical integrity, we have children in our country who have lost their lives. This minor could show isolation, causing a harmful effect on their mental health or quite the opposite, increasing behaviors that do not harmonize with social relationships ”.
López Ortiz said that: “I worked for 17 years in mental health in children and the children we attended came due to deep sadness or suicide attempts. These are some of the emotional effects that this childhood can have from being extremely sad to being aggressive and having low self-esteem ”.
“The wounds in a young person or an adult that are wounds that if they do not receive help or support, are not overcome and become problems in their adult life,” he said.
“Socially, here the tension and violence are many as in the country, the issue of the economy, food, health security, whether emotional and physical, threaten the safety of the child in the environment of a family,” said the doctor.
According to a study carried out in Argentina (Ierullo, 2015) there is a crisis in the upbringing and care of children, linked to the social complexity that we live in. “According to this author, the roots of this crisis are linked to the fact that we have new forms and family radiographs, advances in the denunciations of a traditional patriarchal and macho model, crisis in socializing institutions, great uncertainty about the future and the disappearance of a state of social welfare, all situations that have not been considered when we talk about preventing child abuse. These factors are added to the lack of access to human rights of citizens to live in conditions of quality of life ”.
“Identifying the most vulnerable sectors in the context of poverty and social inequality experienced with a high incidence of child abuse, is to penalize, blame and criminalize our families, when we have failed to access a quality of life from the enjoyment of education, health, housing, culture, recreation and security. Just as an example, let us recognize the dismantling of the University of Puerto Rico, the lack of safe schools in the event of an earthquake, the lack of public spaces and games for our children as a result of the deterioration of the facilities in charge of the state after hurricanes and tremors It is time to do justice for our children and youth, let’s leave the speech of “spanking in time”, for one of respect, peace, love and sustained security of appreciation and availability access to human rights no matter the social class of our families, the practice of social work assumes and reaffirms this commitment. Our organization, the CPTSPR, remains committed to our childhood and youth ”, declared the president.
“Our families need education and support from accompaniment services to manage all the daily stresses that we live as a family and as a Country. That is part of prevention, ”he said.
This is done with an education campaign for the prevention of abuse that is broad and constant to know how to generate tools, where to look for services to receive help, where to have answers to what families sometimes lack, which is how to manage these tensions unexpected or extreme with what is the upbringing in the childhood ”, concluded López Ortiz.