The present report examines the cases of success of World Vision where advocacy led by the NGO paved the way to relevant changes in Latin American States’ legislations. In broad terms, more than 147’000.000 children of the region were impacted positively by these changes. Violent acts against children such as corporal punishment, bullying, child marriage, human trafficking, child labor and sexual violence were penalized and advances were made towards the application of those laws. An improvement of the conventions and codes’ enforcement methods was also an objective for the Organization. A total of 14 Countries were benefited by the support of World Vision: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru.
While the majority of changes were made by the states through changes and/or additions to their legislations, the civil society was the main engine for this actions through lobbying or by providing the technical assistance needed by the governments to create comprehensive policies. A clear definition of violence against children is, for example, a basic concept needed to build strong and coherent legislations. World Vision defines it as: “[…] all forms of physical, sexual, and mental violence, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, harm or abuse, including commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labor, [and] harmful practices, such as child marriage.” (2017)
The Organization approaches the problem of violence against children with a strategy that covers the causes of violence, the protection of the children and the construction of a safer environment. Families and children are involved in the reduction of violence by leading their communities to change their social norms and behaviors, creating an atmosphere of respect and security in which children and adolescents can develop freely and without fear. Taking into account the importance of religion on the region, faith communities are also involved in the strategy thanks to their capacity to catalyze the process of change in society’s cosmology. Last but in the same level of importance, the NGO looks to influence the national and local governments to guide them into the best course of action when creating and/or implementing public policies on the matter.
Even when the period of time between 2014 and 2016 was very fruitful for the civil society and governments alike, there’s still a way to go. World Vision recommends then five guidelines for communities and institutions in Latin America to follow in future conjunctures:
1. “Utilize a broad-based approach to monitoring violence against children.”
2. “Encourage the participation of children and adolescents in child protection system strengthening.”
3. “Increase investment in child protection.”
4. “Support the improved implementation, coordination and monitoring of child protection policies and legal frameworks especially at the local level.”
5. “Improve access to and quality of support services.”