San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Gov’t Improves Child Safety Networks

NEARLY two years of governmentstudies and alliance-building efforts haveresulted in significant improvements forchild-safety efforts, especially on the locallevel, the director of the National CommunityDevelopment Office (DINADECO),Anabel Lang, announced last week.In a presentation at President AbelPacheco’s weekly Cabinet meeting, Langsaid her organization has worked with avariety of other national and internationalgroups to improve community resources forthe prevention of violence against children.The murder of 8-year-old Kattia VanesaGonzález in July 2003, (TT, July 11, 2003)prompted Pacheco to request thatDINADECO and other agencies examineways to improve the protection of minorsnationwide, Lang said.Shortly after the tragedy andPacheco’s subsequent request, DINADECO,along with the Child Welfare Office(PANI), the Confederation ofDevelopment Associations (CONADECO),the United Nations’ Children’s Fund(UNICEF) and the Local Initiatives Fundof the Canadian Embassy, examined existingstructures for child protection.According to Lang, they found measuresto protect children were top-heavy,with strong national organizations butinsufficient local initiatives.“There was limited citizen participation,”Lang said, adding that local childprotection committees were “very weak.”TO date, 170 new local Committeesfor Child and Adolescent Rights havebeen founded across the country, and 453community development organizationshave received training in child and adolescentrights.To ensure this increased attention tochildren’s rights does not end whenPacheco leaves office next year,DINADECO founded a Childhood andAdolescence Office and CONADECOfounded a Childhood and AdolescenceSecretariat, according to Lang.

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