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Children and everyday violence

The Safe Backpack program (Mochila Segura) continues operating in schools across Mexico City, but can it be improved to be less invasive?
Safe Backpack Program in action - File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
22/08/2017
09:00
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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A kid behaves in the streets according to what he sees every day in his immediate environment. Thus, the violence children manifest in public areas is usually the reflection of the break down of their families and communities. Violent individuals generate violent environments, and usually their behavior is copied by the younger members with whom they interact.

Due to the beginning of the academic year 2017-2018, the government of Mexico City, through its Major, Miguel Ángel Mancera, announced the Safe Backpack program (Mochila Segura) would continue operating in schools across the capital city. The program is an initiative aimed towards preventing the access of unauthorized items into schools, but its main goal is to identify the members who pose a risk to the community.

Unfortunately, there have been reports of tragedies at school involving firearms. These are regrettable events that not only damage a particular community but also awaken a sense of unease in the general population. Particularly, public safety is one of the main demands within Mexico City, considering that this year has been recorded the highest number of murders in the city, according to the National Public Security System.

The initiative of the local government is focused on prevention, yet its scope is quite limited. What reasons drive a kid to carry a gun into a school, where it is not only unnecessary but also a danger to all? The answer relies heavily on the environment of the child and the rules of coexistence of his community. This is clear proof of social breakdown.

The Safe Backpack program is an answer to a very specific problem, however, we have to question whether this is the most desirable alternative, seeing that suspicion of a possible crime falls into every student with this measure. The involvement of parents in the program and their supervision of their own kids is vital, and this is an aspect the program could take advantage of, to be more effective and less invasive.

Increasing tolerance towards violence and the lack of a comprehensive view of the problem tell us the Safe Backpack program is an initiative which can be improved. It's not enough to check the bags for weapons at the entrance of a school, we have to find the way to ensure those a child develops in an adequate environment. This is a long-term plan where results will not be seen in the short-term, but thinking ahead, we would be able to neutralize violence in minors. The investment is worth it.

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