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Childhood and youth: “More protection, less violence”

The cities of Latin America, the continent with the greatest social inequalities in the world, combine highly exclusive neighbourhoods with huge marginal pockets.

Mass exodus from the country to the city has led to the agglomeration of sprawling shanty towns encircling the capital cities. Peri-urban districts, thrown up any way with no planning, no services, no opportunity to study, no leisure spaces or activities, places that have turned into seething hotbeds of violence.

The local women (often on their own), who shoulder most of the affective and economic load of bringing up their children, are obliged to work outside their homes, often having to leave their sons and daughters unattended. The absence of an adult figure to guide them, combined with an environment lending itself little to personal and educational development and repeated desertion from school at around 11 or 12 years old, carries a high risk that children and youths will not only fall prey to alcohol and drug abuse, but that they will also join gangs (armed groups of youngsters).