Salazar, Guadalupe. “Second Class Citizens in the Making: The Rights of Street Children in Chile.” Latin American Perspectives 35, no. 4 (July 2008): 30-44

In his article “Second-Class Citizens in the Making: The Rights of Street Children in Chile,” Guadalupe Salazar examines the ways in which children in Chile are perceived and treated in the social, cultural, and political spheres due to their social class. Out of these perceptions come certain rights and protections that are accorded to the children, but that are given to them not because they are human, but because of their perceived social standing. Thus, children who belong to a “lower” class are accorded fewer rights than children of “higher” classes—despite Chile having ratified the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1990, a historical moment which Salazar includes in his article. From these different treatments of children based on their social class, children in Chile are thus put on the road to certain lives, whether they be beneficial or harmful to the child and to society at large.

In order to study this disparity in human rights granted to children in Chile, Salazar compares the cases of high school students involved in a political protest and street children accused of kidnapping. During his time examining these cases—in which he uses both secondary and primary sources to gather data—Salazar found that the high school students received sympathetic and supportive treatment from the public, whereas the street children were regarded as dangerous, unlawful, and repugnant, and should therefore be avoided and shunned. In gathering the information for his study, Salazar is clear to point out that some of his sources—namely, the secondary sources (e.g. media reports)—may not be as detailed or as unbiased as they could be, but that such sources were necessary. In addition to using these avenues of information, Salazar also gathered data from his relationships with street children, allowing him to see and experience first-hand the things they did—adding greater credibility to his claims throughout his study.

In looking at this article, it is important to note that such a disparity in rights accorded to people is not exclusive to children in Chile. Differences in material goods, social and political rights, freedoms, and access to even the most basic human needs can be seen in numerous countries. It is important to see every person as a human being—as someone who exists and is no better or worse than anyone else—and to accord to him or her the rights that you would want for yourself. This can be difficult, based on your own beliefs or on who you believe that person to be or he or she has done, but empathy for every individual is what will foster more understanding and compassion between people.

For me, this image reflects the state of many children in Chile—the children who Salazar address in his article—because of its lack of color, the deserted area that the children are in, and the item that one boy is holding as well as the expressions on their faces. For many children in Chile, namely the street children, life is difficult, harsh, and desolate—much like the colorless photo and the rocky and dirty path that they are standing on. Like the boy on the far left who is smiling and the boys on the right who look unhappy, many children in Chile experience a disparity in lifestyles, protections, and rights that can ultimately steer them to different paths in life.In looking at this article, it is important to note that such a disparity in rights accorded to people is not exclusive to children in Chile. Differences in material goods, social and political rights, freedoms, and access to even the most basic human needs can be seen in numerous countries. It is important to see every person as a human being—as someone who exists and is no better or worse than anyone else—and to accord to him or her the rights that you would want for yourself. This can be difficult, based on your own beliefs or on who you believe that person to be or he or she has done, but empathy for every individual is what will foster more understanding and compassion between people.

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