Thousands of minors in Sename’s institutions use drugs

SANTIAGO – Sename reports that as of February 2019 there were 3,801 minors within its institutions who used alcohol and/or drugs. Sename workers say this is due to a lack of concern and resources. These numbers come amid a possible call to mobilize Sename’s workers.

A new report from Sename, the agency established to protect and promote the rights of minors and to reintegrate into society those who have broken the law, reveals that as of February 2019 there were 3,801 minors who used drugs and/or alcohol within its institutions.

This figure does not include minors who are going through a judicial proceeding, because they are interned in special “lawbreaker” homes, as reported news site Cooperativa.

The report analyzed data from each of Sename’s residential institutions, better known as CREADs.

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In its entirety, the study analyzed the circumstances of 106,136 children residing within this protection program.

According to El Mercurio newspaper, these figures were delivered during the second meeting of the working group on drug and/or alcohol consumption, made up of Sename, the Ministry of Health, and the Advocacy of Childhood.

As reported by Ahora Noticias new site, Sename disclosed that “in the centers of direct administration, what is being done now is a pre-diagnosis of children and adolescents, as part of a screening carried out by the nurse of the residences. This examination is then managed with the corresponding Health Service for the necessary purposes.”

Childhood advocate Patricia Muñoz, referring to the work of the meeting, said that this “has not been so fast” due to the lack of information, and, at the same time, explained that the Ministry of Health must now “make this diagnosis and determine which children and adolescents are requiring, for example, an immediate intervention in terms of detoxification.”

“The care is very poor”

Alicia del Basto, president of the national association of Sename officials, told Chile Today that, currently, there are no drug programs for Sename children. She added that increased concern for the health of children in this regard arose after the death of a girl in 2016.

Del Basto indicated that the children who are under Sename’s jurisdiction “come from a very vulnerable sector, therefore they come with these problems, and there are no effective treatments for them. Children have to suffer abstinence.” Adding to that, del Basto said “there are no professionals to take care of children.” In short, the “care is very poor.”

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“A reality that nobody wants to look at”

Christopher Simpson, the president of the national federation of Sename workers (an institution different from del Basto’s), told Chile Today that at present the institution is “going through a super complex scenario in terms of service modifications,” but that the reality of drug and/or alcohol consumption within the organization is due to “precariousness and lack of effective control,” so it ends up being “a reality that nobody wants to look at.”

Simpson added that the workers are without tools when dealing with this problem, saying that currently Sename faces a “structural” problem, since, as he tells it, “most of the resources of direct administration that the state uses for this goes to private companies, but then they [the press and public] point the finger at us.”

Simpson also added that although the system is going through various restructurings, “they do not guarantee that this will improve.”

In the middle of a mobilization?

These figures are framed in the middle of what some say is a call by Sename workers to mobilize, due to accusations of mistreatment towards them on the part of the minors of the institution.

According to del Basto, a mobilization is gathering steam due to the fact that the workers are “tired of the level of aggression toward the officials by the boys and girls.” She added that “officials are being attacked every day and nobody does anything.”

Moreover, del Basto added, the authorities “had the pleasure” to include within one of the technical guidelines delivered by the authorities of the institution a paragraph that said “the officials who come to work have to know they will be attacked.”

Simpson, on the other hand, denied there had been a call to mobilize; he said that there had been no vote for any strike or mobilization.


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