Family, School and the Media: Violence against Children and Youth in Colima

Article excerpt

Thoughts on domestic and school violence registered in various studies reported by academic and institutional sources from the state of Colima are the main focus in the current article. A focused analysis on the living condition of children and young people is done by demonstrating the seriousness of this public health problem. Data is based on two sources: the Child and Youth Survey done by IFE in 2003 and the systematic analysis of published press articles during the period 1998-2004 regarding violent cases. Providing critical elements of the handling of such social problems by the different persons responsible and some strategies for inter-institutional intervention is presented in order to improve processes like crime prevention and law enforcement.

Introduction

To talk about violence occurring in homes represents a huge challenge because it involves lifting the veil on something private and shedding a light on what is considered intimate and sacred. It implies putting an end to legitimizing the popular saying dirty laundry is washed at home and denouncing those who are connected by blood, affection, or by family ties.

It is also difficult to unveil the various forms of violence that persist at school given that, contrary to what is expected from teachers, (transmitters of knowledge and values) children and teens learn a range of attitudes and ways of exercising power, with various shades and degrees of violence, blurring the dignity of girls and boys who spend several hours of each day during the school year under their care, with the trust of their parents.

It is complicated to explain the context in which the textures about becoming a man or woman are created and recreated in a society that refuses and condemns violence, but encourages it by means of cultural products shown in daily life through the media, family dynamics, and institutional culture of various government bodies, mainly those related to the justice system.

This article is based on the research project "Domestic violence in Colima. Perspective on the public agenda through the press: Has the incidence increased, the culture of denouncing or ineffectiveness of law?" conducted at University of Colima through the University Program of Gender Study.

From a gender perspective, the process of signifying and configuring identities, our objective is to understand the relationships, values, norms, and codes of expression of those who are in domestic violence situations to find out how that structure that permits dominance in couple and family relationships has been built, legitimizing physical, psychological, sexual and cultural abuse as part of a cultural heritage replicated from generation to generation.

Of particular interest is the manner in which family and school violence is addressed in the public agenda as isolated and exceptional events when in fact several studies indicate their recurrence in the state's geopolitics.

The challenge, on one hand, is to promote a combined vision to achieve the confluence of legal, social, economic, psychological, and educational strategies in the process of ensuring the right to live a violence-free life. On the other hand is the challenge of establishing collaborative inter-institutional networks that reach consensus on clear and comprehensive guidelines for care and prevention, which constitute the basis of a public policy that correlates what de jure establishes in the legal framework and what a good number of women, children, and adolescents experience daily in the state of Colima.

Methods and Techniques

In order to characterize the standpoint of the public agenda in the incidence of domestic violence, we employed the quantitative method of reviewing and systematizing news regarding acts of violence published in Colima during the period 1998-2004. We also analyzed the results reported by the Instituto Federal Electoral en el Ejercicio Infantil y Juvenil (Federal Electoral Institute in Exercise of Children and Youth) (IFE 2003), statistics provided by the Encusta Nacional Sobre Violencia Contra las Mujeres (National Survey on Violence Against Women) (ENVIF 2003) issued by the Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica (National Institute of Public Health) as well as INEGI's most recent study: the Encuesta Nacional sobre la Dinamica de las Relaciones en los Hogares (National Survey on the Dynamics of Internal Relationships in Households) (ENDIREH 2006). …