A Culture of Peace Against Drugs and Corruption in High Risk Communities

Carmen Masias, 8th IACC, Workshop contribution, Civil Society

A Culture of Peace Against Drugs and Corruption in High Risk Communities

Psychologist Carmen Masías Master in Familiy Therapy Deputy Director, CEDRO

To talk about preventing or reducing corruption leads us necessarily to reflect on the moral formation of the young adult population, and to inform ourselves on what is being done in the country on this respect. This will be the content of my presentation, which will consider the following stages:

  • 1. A theoretical reflection on the moral and ethic formation since the educational system, especially the non-formal education, within the Peruvian reality;
  • 2. An outlook of the drug problem and its relationship with the values or anti-values within the adolescent population; and,
  • 3. Following this context, an alternative proposal being carried out by CEDRO, especially amongst high risk populations.

A Reflection:

If we want to understand, at least in part, what is the meaning of moral and ethic formation in a boy, girl or adolescent, it is necessary to start by making a functional definition, from the psychological point of view, of the word morality. "Morality consists in a system of rules. And the essence of morality has to be looked for in the respect an individual acquires towards certain rules. The differences in doctrine with respect to this meaning could arise when we try to explain "HOW" our conscience starts respecting these rules. This "HOW" is the field that concerns the interdisciplinary groups that work and interact with the adolescent population and who have the duty to understand the mechanisms of moral and ethic formation."

Most of the moral rules assumed by a minor consist in a set of rules developed by adults, even if during their early ages a child makes up his/her own rules, which is a situation that is somehow maintained later on, and which is certainly part of every individual's freedom. Sometimes it is difficult to know whether a child's action is the result of internalised rules or whether he/she does it due to respect, admiration or fear of his/her parents or tutors, who are the "first referents". Even when a child or adolescent has an inadequate model parent, they tend to imitate them and to identify with them. Fortunately in these cases, the parents are not the only moral referents, so the child or adolescent assumes other models that may influence them with respect to the internalisation of rules and values.

Children and adolescents share several spaces, be it the school, the community and/or the neighbourhood. They also establish their own rules through these social relationships.

For this reason, intervention through programs in the school and the community, especially through a formative and nonformal educational approach, becomes more important. These interventions aim for the children or adolescents to:

Low self-esteem, a lack of power, in the sense previously mentioned, that does not facilitate a decision for a moral and ethic life, and the anxiety associated with feelings of shame, are all factors to be taken into consideration when working with children and adolescents, especially those in high risk.

Drug production and trafficking, and other sources of corruption, are all allies against ethics and against moral formation, especially among the younger population. In turn, a poor moral formation contributes to their involvement in drug use and other illicit activities, including drug production and trafficking.

CEDRO and Its Alternative Proposal:

Faced with the reflection on this reality, CEDRO has developed a series of programs especially aimed at populations at risk. Following I will describe summarily some of these programs to give you an idea of the work approach as well as some of the encouraging achievements.

a) Program "From Piranhas to Dolphins"

A program developed for children and adolescents from the streets who are in a state of absolute abandonment. Objective: To modify the behaviour of these boys, girls and adolescents, separating them from the streets by recruiting and incorporating them into a program that seeks to reinsert them to their families and society, free of drugs and delinquent activities.

Average life in the street: 3 years

Ages: Between 7 and 17 years

Modality: "Open house". In other words, the boy, girl or adolescent is free to stay or not in the home.

Number of houses: 4

Locations: Areas that, according to studies developed by CEDRO, show the highest rates of "children being expelled from home".

Causes detected for the expulsion of children: Physical and/ or psychological battering by the mother/father or tutor.

Infrastructure: Houses built on lands provided by municipal governments, and one house ceded by Lima's Public Welfare Institute.

Feeding: This component is partially covered by the Peruvian government, through PRONAA, and the European Community. (This feeding has been expanded, through CEDRO, to 14 other lodges, thanks to the same donors.)

Number of children per house (average): 25

Number of children attended by the program and who have been reinserted into their families or have been referred to other programs: 100 additional.

More significant conducts, noted among children and adolescents just recruited, that need to be modified: Absence of moral rules, robbery, sexual promiscuity, manipulation, lying, violence, distrust, lack of attention and concentration, use of inhalants (in approximately 90%).

Health status when starting the program: Acarinosis and other skin affections, contagious diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, malnutrition.

Program Stages:

CEAPAZ. Flecha en el Azul ("Arrow in the Blue"). Magazine No. 1, Year 1 (July 1996).

Kolhberg. Escala de Moralidad ("Scale of Morality"). Manual y Escala.

CEDRO. Cultura de Paz ("Culture of Peace") by Eduardo Vega Bazán. Publication sponsored by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (1996).

CEDRO. Manual para el Trabajo en Cárceles ("'Manual for Work in Prisons") by Iván Romero (1996).

CEDRO. La Prevención frente al Uso Indebido de Drogas en el Perú ("Prevention of Drug Abuse in Perú") by Carmen Masías. Work document developed for CONTRADROGAS (1997) .

CEDRO. Conjunto de Textos y Manuales para Trabajo con Niños Be lea Cable y Otras Poblaclones en Riesgo ("Collection of Texts and Manuals for Work with Street Children and Other Populations at Risk") by various authors (1995 to 1997) .

CEDRO. Vamos Ya ("Come On Now") by Antonio Lara. Document that collects the methodology of work, contents and experience of work performed in coca producing areas. Publication sponsored by Edex Kolektiboa, the European Community and the Basque Government (1997).

PROMUDEH. La Niñez Primero ("Childhood First") A diagnosis and series of policies and strategies for the work with girls, boys, and adolescents (1997).

    1" have duplicated, even though this is a conduct that puts in risk physical freedom, and in certain cases even the life of those who are betting for easy money. It must be mentioned that almost 80% of the inmates in the Women's Prison of Chorrillos have been convicted for drug trafficking.
    • 1] A "burrier" is a person hired by drug traffickers to transport and deliver drugs outside the country (the word originates from courier). Normally they are girls in their early twenty's who seek easy money and some adventure.
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