Case of a child in Paraguay puts the prevention of abuse in schools under the magnifying glass

This content was published on May 10, 2022 – 00:15

Laura Barros

Asunción, May 9 (EFE).- The complaint of a woman about the alleged sexual abuse that her six-year-old son suffered in a private school has shaken Paraguayan society, but it has also put the focus on the dimension of this problem in the country.

Last Friday, a mother who spoke with her back to the television cameras before a group of journalists – mostly women and whose faces drew surprise or pain as the story progressed – became front page news.

The revelation was painful: her boy had allegedly been abused in the bathroom at his school, apparently by other students.

The incident occurred after the woman alerted officials of the institution that her son was a victim of harassment. However, the authorities have warned that the protocols provided for in Paraguayan law were not activated in time.

In the attack that occurred on April 26, the mother assured, “three to four” students could be linked. The prosecutor Myriam Rodríguez clarified this Monday that so far “two alleged aggressors” of 12 and 13 years have been identified.

The case shocked public opinion in the country, while the parents of the educational community have reacted with protests in front of the Prosecutor’s Office and the court where the director and two teachers of the institution gave testimony this weekend.

The demonstrations continued on Sunday until a judge ordered the preventive detention of the officials of the “SEK-Paraguay” school, which, according to its website, is linked to a network of schools founded in Spain and based in different countries.

The private institution, located in the city of Lambaré, neighboring Asuncion, was intervened on Monday by the Ministry of Education and Sciences (MEC).

But the child’s case is not the only one in the school environment. The Minister of Education, Nicolás Zárate, said in an interview on Saturday with ABC TV that his office had another case “at the same time” in Encarnación, the capital of the Itapúa department, although he did not provide further details.

Consulted by Efe, the director of Protection of Children and Adolescents of the Ministry of Education and Sciences (MEC), Sonia Escauriza, pointed out that between January and last Thursday they had received 164 complaints of violation of the rights of minors in schools.

In the first three places of this statistic are sexual abuse, with 18 cases, bullying (15) and sexual harassment (9).

However, he admitted that, after hearing about the child’s case, the complaints have begun to skyrocket.

For his part, the executive director of the Coordinator for the Rights of Children and Adolescents (CDIA), Aníbal Cabrera, told Efe that between 2008 and 2021, 56,000 cases of complaints of sexual violence against minors were recorded in the country. .

This data includes, according to the expert, sexual abuse in boys and girls from 0 to 13 years old, child pornography, human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation and rape.

He warned that the country went from an average of two cases reported per day in 2008 to the Prosecutor’s Office to 12 daily last year.

Between January and March, the Public Ministry received 662 complaints of sexual abuse against boys and girls, an average of 7 each day in a country of 7.1 million inhabitants.

“Right now there is a wave of complaints from public schools, mainly about situations that are occurring or were occurring and that were not properly addressed,” Cabrera warned.

He also said that in the interior of the country “it is not easy to denounce”, since in many cases people must go to the departmental capitals and face problems such as the lack of public transportation or the long distances they must travel. EFE

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Case of a child in Paraguay puts the prevention of abuse in schools under the magnifying glass