Stigma, indifference, and bullying affect children of disappeared in Mexico

February 18, 2023, 08:06 PM


More than 100 thousand investigation files in Mexico are open for cases of disappearances. The stigmatization of society, bullying, and indifference from teachers and institutions, they do not listen to children by putting them in the spotlight, according to a publication issued this week in Guadalajara by the Justice Center for Peace and Development (Cepad).

During the presentation of the publication “Infancias sonoras; nuestras voces; nuestros derechos,” Sofía Virgen, a member of the psychosocial area of Cepad, explained that children and adolescents want to feel heard and protected from the forced disappearance of their loved ones. Children expressed that they need schools to understand their situation and to stop stigmatizing missing persons.

“We need them not to judge us and not to judge the people who disappear,” “we need to feel safe, not to be afraid,” “I want the school to take care of me, for the teacher to understand that sometimes I cannot concentrate,” “that they do not speak badly of the missing people in the news and on the street,” “that they support us in the marches,” are some of the phrases expressed by those who participated in a workshop. The publication comes amid Mexico’s disappearance crisis, which last year surpassed the historical figure of more than 100,000 people not located since records began, with the state of Jalisco at the top.

Virgen said that minors know their relatives’ situation but feel they need to be heard by adults even though they want to learn more about the problem and assert their opinion. “When I asked them what they needed: (they answered) to listen to me. Sometimes they didn’t even need answers, just knowing that their questions are valid, their emotions, that they have doubts and (want) to be seen, that they are there and that they are also living this,” she said.

Rosa María Quezada, the mother of a missing person and grandmother of one of the girls participating in the publication, pointed out that schools are often indifferent to children who often feel harassed by their peers or the teachers, affecting their school performance. Rocío Martínez, the coordinator of the psychosocial area of Cepad, said that one of the challenges is to hear children by society and educational institutions, in addition to recognizing the impact that the disappearance of a loved one has on their lives and those who care for them.

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