LN – Gabriel Lerner: “What worries us most is to improve nutrition standards”


The National Secretary for Children, Adolescents and Family talks about the challenges in a context that demands urgent solutions Source: LA NACION – Credit: Mauro Alfieri

The challenges are huge and urgent. Gabriel Lerner, a lawyer specializing in childhood, assumed the position of national secretary of Children, Adolescents and Family of the Ministry of Social Development in
a context in which half of the boys and girls are poor and where hunger, lack of safe water and the inability to access health services took, during the year, the life of at least six children from communities of native peoples of the North of the country. “We have a historical problem of the State to arrive on time and properly,” he says about the reality of these highly vulnerable communities. In addition, it underlines the need to work to guarantee access to other basic rights such as education and early childhood care.

-What are your expectations regarding the impact of the food card?

-We have a very high expectation of the impact of the Argentina Against Hunger Program and the card, which is the first stage. If things continue without the adoption of measures taken by the new government, in December a family with a child would have received 2746 pesos, which is the basic benefit of the Universal Assignment for Child (AUH); and, if they had been two children, more or less 5500 pesos. With the increase that was made of 2000 pesos for December and January, and with the card, today if it is a family with a child of less than six years, he charged 8746 pesos in January, and if they are two boys, 17,400. What concerns us fundamentally is to improve nutrition and food standards and we are highly hopeful in this process. On the other hand, we are finding good receptivity in small producers and self-services. In Buenos Aires, in the 24 districts where the card is currently distributed, families will be able to spend 194,000,000 pesos per month on food only per month.

-What work is being done to reach rural areas and native communities?

-In the NEA, for example, we have the peculiarity of wichis and qom that are relatively small communities in the general mass, but that live in particularly alarming conditions. A device is being organized so that the same service provided by the card arrives in products in that area. At the moment there is an operation where the Ministry of Defense is intervening with a water treatment plant and water distribution. In addition, it is articulating with the Ministry of Health that was integrated into the operation and our Ministry of Social Development with teams from all areas and technicians of the Secretariat of Children who are working in these communities. We know that it is difficult, that news from which they all hurt us will continue to appear from time to time, but there is a priority placed there and we hope that in this opportunity of government the difficulty of access of these populations to basic services and rights.

-One of the fundamental problems in these areas is access to water, what is being done in that regard?

-Contamination with chemical elements of the first napa forces to make wells 300 meters below ground level to access drinking water. The fundamental infrastructure that is missing there is that: that, where there is a community, there is a well. A device was assembled with the Ministry of Defense to purify and deliver, and in the future to start making those wells. We must also get a good involvement of the province, that is important. This coordination with provinces and municipalities is not always easy.

– Will expanding the scope of Comprehensive Sex Education (ESI) also be a priority?

-Our position was always very much in favor of ESI. To the effort made by the educational system, we must add other tools, such as the development of new technologies. Territorial work is also important. The National Plan for the Prevention of Unintended Pregnancy in Adolescence (ENIA) will continue and be improved, we will try to extend it to other provinces. ESI also means empowering children. We need them to express themselves, to know what their rights are. It is absolutely demonstrated – and there is no debate about this in science – that boys and girls with access to sex education are less exposed to abuse and that cannot depend on the opinion of the mother or the father, it cannot be optional. This has to be part of a public policy, it is a right of children that parents cannot block.

“One of the challenges is to be able to structure the interventions of the different levels of the State and civil society organizations in what we call the System of Integral Protection of Rights, to realize the best interests of the child,” says Lerner. Source: LA NACION – Credit: Mauro Alfieri

-What other rights of boys and girls are priorities for the Secretariat?

-One of the challenges is to be able to structure the interventions of the different levels of the State and civil society organizations in what we call the Integral Rights Protection System. That is, the alignment of the set of public policies to realize the best interests of the child. I think there is a central challenge because many times there are resources lacking and sometimes we are not articulating the efforts well or planning properly. On the other hand, we have difficulties in the health system, where we lower the infant mortality rate but there is much to do; the high rate of suicides in adolescents and also of pregnancies; the need to protect the first childhoods; Challenges in problematic consumption and education. There are around 400,000 adolescents, aged 13 to 17, who could be included in the AUH and are not, or because they are not in school or because they do not live with their parents and the procedures have not been done. We will work hard to include them.

-You. It has always been against the fall of the age of imputability. Do you consider that a modification of the juvenile penal regime is necessary?

-Argentina needs a new criminal law for adolescents: today we have one that is not only from the dictatorship but is also a Convention on the Rights of the Child. We must define a minimum floor below which criminal judges do not intervene, which should not be below 16 years. In addition, there should be a menu of penalties proportional to the responsibilities of a minor. A penalty of 30 years in prison as recently issued in Argentina or perpetual to a teenager, are convictions that violate the principle of proportionality and attenuated guilt. It is also necessary to strongly incorporate restorative justice procedures and practices, which offer the possibility of getting out of the cause of the traditional criminal process and finding the active subject of the crime, with the victims or the community.

– What balance does of the policies of childhood and adolescence that were impelled during the government of Mauricio Macri?

-The government of former President Macri began during the campaign taking pictures with children in very humble neighborhoods and promising 3000 gardens, to go directly to deactivate and make invisible childhood policies. This tour ends with the sending of a juvenile criminal law project that not only lowers the age of imputability but also allows sentences of up to 55 years in prison for adolescents. It seems to me that that was pathetic. In this secretariat the proposed year was underecumented year after year. There was a callousness, a great lack of commitment to social policies in general and aimed at children in particular. In that context, we found a “flattened” secretariat that is today, stealing a concept from economic specialists, with an idle capacity of 75%.

-Rescue any policy related to childhood implemented during the previous management?

– Yes, the inclusion of the lowest category of monotax in the AUH and two laws that we are implementing. One is Assisted Egress, which establishes new rights for young people without parental care. In Argentina there are between 9,000 and 10,000 children and adolescents without parental care and in institutional settings. A third are teenagers and could be included in the program, which is currently paying the economic allocation to 278. There are 19 provinces that joined, but its implementation has been a very cumbersome process. We promise to quickly double this figure. The other law that was also widely voted is the regime of economic reparation to children and adolescents whose mothers were victims of femicide or, in a smaller number of cases, their parents of some other intrafamily violence.

– Many families denounced the delays in being able to collect that repair. What is the current situation?

-At the moment there are 371 children who are receiving the benefit, which is around 14,000 pesos. We are working with our team with all the provinces because we imagine a much larger universe, although it is difficult to estimate it for the qualification of femicide from the criminal point of view, but we will work to identify those cases.

-After so many years of debt, the Defender of the Girls, Girls and Adolescents will finally be appointed. What does this figure imply?

– I competed for the position and it seems to me that it was a very good process, that puts the high rod to the Congress for future designations. The Ombudsman comes to play a role that the protection system needs, because she has to have a person independent of the powers that design and execute public policy so that she can observe, make recommendations, control and eventually represent children or contingents of children in some litigation in the event that public policies do not respond. I know of the merits of Dr. Marisa Graham and I am convinced that it will be an additional contribution to raising the quality of public policies.


. (tagsToTranslate) Gabriel Lerner: “What worries us most is to improve nutrition standards” – LA NACION

Publicado en el diario La Nación