Better Childhood on the bench: Court orders to pay $200 million to a young man who reported abuse and violence in residences

Better Childhood on the bench: Court orders to pay $200 million to a young man who reported abuse and violence in residences
Better Childhood on the bench: Court orders to pay $200 million to a young man who reported abuse and violence in residences

June 19 2024 – 10:26 hrs.

As a unpublished failure. This is how the Judicial Assistance Corporation (CAJ) of Valparaíso describes the sentence that condemned the Better Childhood Service to pay $200 million in compensation for moral damage.

And last May 2, the Third Court of Letters of Copiapó accepted a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of a teenager – whose identity will remain confidential – who spent more than 10 years in Sename and Mejor Niñez residences, homes in which she suffered sexual abuse and physical violence in residences, as described in the lawsuit.

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The action was presented by a professional within the framework of the “My Lawyer” program, an initiative that provides legal defense to children and adolescents (NNA) and is run by the CAJ of Valparaíso, body that depends on the Ministry of Justice.

The demand –to which Mega Investiga had access– reports that the adolescent would have remained from the age of 4 until he came of age in homes in the child protection network. Of that total, he spent ten years at the Alma residence in Vallenar, a home that in 2021 passed into the hands of the municipality due to a series of complaints and questions.


The court accepted the claim because – as stated in the ruling – the “deficient performance of the service, who did not comply in the expected manner and in accordance with the fulfillment of their own purposes with their obligation of supervision and thus the minor suffered violations of their rights while they were under the care and protection of the residence.”

consulted by Mega Investigatefrom Mejor Niñez confirmed that on May 17 They appealed the ruling before the Court of Appeals of Copiapó and that they will continue “with the procedural acts” of the case that is still ongoing.

“It is a civil lawsuit for the moral damage that he suffered, the lawsuit raises and It is requested to have in view more than 60 cases of protection that this child, who is now young, had during his time at Sename and Mejor Niñez, from 2008 to 2022.“, they explain inside the Valparaíso Judicial Assistance Corporation.

“Sexualized practices and physical violence”

In 2008 it was the minor’s first contact with residences of the then Sename, when I was just 4 years old. She entered the protection system through the Brief Intervention Program (PIB), where his family remained for three years.

Despite this, the letter says, the violations and abuses continued in their immediate environment. As a result of this, In 2011, the Vallenar Family Court ordered him to enter the CEDIF Crecer residence for six months..

However, in July 2012, the boy expressed that he was a victim of violence by those in his care. “He was subjected to physical abuse and physical and psychological abuse by the direct treatment educators, negatively impacting the reparation process,” the document describes.

In 2013 – the story continues – the minor escaped from the residence to ask for money in public along with other children from the home. In parallel, in the residence the “sexualized practices and physical violence.” The lawsuit charges that officials “failed to establish efficient containment and protection strategies.”

“We are witnessing a lack of service, where alternatives for personal care were not sought in his family, where there is an excess of inappropriate hospitalizations in residences, violation of rights that he suffered while caring for these homes that by law were supposed to ensure the care of the children,” says one of the officials who had access to the case.

A confidential report from Sename, dated 2017, which was prepared after a court order, reports early consumption of drugs and narcotics, which began at age 7 and became more pronounced when he turned 12.

Another fact that is mentioned in the lawsuit is that, at the age of 13, together with another young man, they were “protagonists of a homicide” and it is explained that for this reason “They were at risk of suffering reprisals, for being part of the family group and for residing next to their home.”“.

In 2020, inside the Alma residence, he was the victim of an attack with a sharp weapon. After that, the option of sending him to a foster family was analyzed, but an internal report quickly ruled out that possibility: “There is no family bank available in the region, added to the fact that age makes it difficult to find a family willing to take in a teenager.”

Finally, at the age of 17, a family court agreed for the minor to leave the residence and he was assigned to live with his mother for a period. “It took him being over 17 for the safety net to see the obvious: He was better off in his mother’s house and what was required for that was the support of the intervention programs dependent on the protection network of the Better Childhood Service.“says the writing.

For the CAJ of Valparaíso, the case of this minor – for which Mejor Niñez must pay compensation of $200 million – represents an unprecedented reparation in the child protection system.

“The My Lawyer program is empowered to even sue the State itself, even though we are a State service, because ultimately what we seek is to ensure the best interests of children and adolescents; and defend them in the sphere of their rights when they are being violated and in that sense for us, it is an unprecedented ruling, we have not had cases like this“, they conclude in the organization.

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