A Culture of Peace Against Drugs and Corruption in High Risk
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:
- A theoretical reflection on the moral and ethic formation since the
educational system, especially the non-formal education, within the Peruvian
- An outlook of the drug problem and its relationship with the values or
anti-values within the adolescent population; and,
- Following this context, an alternative proposal being carried out by CEDRO,
especially amongst high risk populations.
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.
is the field that concerns the interdisciplinary groups that work and interact
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
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:
- practice and apply rules.
- become aware of moral rules and internalise them.
- find self-satisfaction and increase his/her self-esteem acting morally and
Education, through this level of interventions, has the following principle:
"the spirit of discipline together with freedom and love for construction and
self-determination constitute the starting point for any moral life: a certain
regularity in conduct, clear and coherent rules, a minimum number of adequate
models and the strengthening of skills to confront environmental pressure".
Within this context, it is crucial to take into consideration the role of the
"peers," in the formative programs. However, many teachers are still using
vertical methods, wasting the youngsters' energy and creativity instead of using
them in environments of co-operation, work and socialisation of knowledge.
It seems like many teachers still are not aware of how important it is for the
group of adolescents themselves to
apply moral sanctions. This concept increases the idea of reciprocity and mutual
respect which are part of any responsible freedom.
Piaget reminds us in the following paragraph the importance of forming free
persons. "In order to teach autonomy to a child, it is useful to provide
scientific "information". To achieve this, we need more than just subjecting the
child into the adults' world and make them understand, from the outside, the
reasons for this submission; autonomy is a power conquered from within and which
is practised only through co-operation".
When we remember that Peru has lived through more than a decade of terrorist
violence, it is necessary to reflect on the tracts it left behind, both in the
adults world and among the adolescent population. We ask ourselves what kind of
mental representations are held by those who had to confront death as an
every-day issue and yet at the same time an unnatural situation. How this period
affected our coexistence, and individual and collective moral, and what formal
education processes, as well as unlearning do we have to experience. And within
all this, how can we rescue a world of mutual acknowledgement that will heal or
alleviate the wounds, yet not being centred in total competitiveness.
To help the children and adolescents through these processes means that they
themselves must be able to distinguish what is right and what is wrong for their
lives. It also means to strengthen the expression of truth helping them to
understand that all lies destroy trust. And above all, it means to act before
them with coherence.
Within this context, and as Fernando Savater would say, we must help them to
understand and to make a choice when faced with the following dilemma: "what is
the most noble action: to live for the others or for the others to live for
us"... So we are dealing with the subject of freedom of choice, whether to say
YES or NO, with the possibility of accepting or rejecting, and to establish a
balance between individuality and collective welfare.
Following this thought, we can also interpret Octavio Paz' words in "The Other
Voice". He expresses: "freedom is not a philosophy, it is not even an idea: it
is a movement of our conscience that leads us in certain moments to pronounce
two monosyllables: YES or NO".
How to work with adolescent populations, from a non-formal education, to promote
a yes or a no related to peace, to
violence, to drugs, to corruption, to tolerance or intolerance, to understanding
and the right to tenderness? How to transmit and be adult models in relation
with the principle that expresses "to have a good life we must give others a
good life.''? How must we educate in order to reach dignity, i.e., to reach the
condition of a person, regardless of age, race. sex, sexual options, believes,
etc.? How to understand emotions and only then reasoning, understanding that all
changes are emotional first? What kind of education and cultural transformation
processes are necessary?
But maybe it is the young adults themselves who are expressing politically an
ethic speech, meaning by political expression the sociocultural manifestations?
What is happening with these sons and daughters of migrants who speak of "moves"
instead of juvenile movements? What is happening with those youngsters who get
organised through their parishes, various churches, clubs, libraries, and
theatrical, photographic, plastic and/or musical expressions? What are they
trying to tell us through the important movement of comics, graffiti and other
Are we, the adults, acting ethically towards all these situations? In other
words, are we listening? Do we read their manifestations? Do we live in harmony
with these new expressions, and do we share them and understand them? Do we
Let us listen for a few seconds the words of a song by the musical group
"They say Peruvianize the country and yet they never heard us sign but the time
for the take over is close and they will finally hear our voice"
Do these youngsters only think about economic gain, or do they leave room for
criticism, for solidarity, to share pleasure and affection, even though they are
constantly bombarded by "models and heroes that make a lot of money"?
Maybe the adolescents are simply trying to break away from the old habits?
Do the adults recognise the adolescents' right to develop power, meaning by
power a vital energy necessary to assume options, to decide between YES or NO,
in order not to depend
on blackmail, on a badly understood "buddyship", and the "occult agendas"?
What type of formal and non-formal education is being provided in Peru today,
taking into consideration a comprehensive world that tends to homogenise all the
youngsters of the world? What kind of work is being done today to strengthen
identity by preventing machismo, racism, intolerance to ultra nationalism and
How are we forming the youngsters to promote, within a world of free trade, a
balance between initiative, creativity, freedom and solidarity, considering that
our country still has enormous gaps?
Within the aforementioned context, what is the role played by drugs? What is the
opinion of the specialists in the field of drug prevention? What is the
relationship between a higher and lower level of moral formation, and drug use
and/or drug commercialisation Does social pressure, especially peer pressure,
influence in the first time of use of an illicit drug?
The study carried out by Huamán, Tueros and Villanueva (1989) in Metropolitan
Lima, shows very consistent findings: 54% of adolescent drug users expressed
having started due to peer pressure in their own neighbourhoods. Nineteen
percent (19%) said they had been pressured by their school classmates. These
findings are very similar to those found in a study carried out by CEDRO (1996)
where the youngsters declared having started using drugs with their peers.
According to Segal's studies (1982), a "shared morale" between adolescents seems
to be a factor of group pressure that leads to drug consumption.
Nowadays, we never refer to "unique causes" as the reasons for drug use. Several
risk factors are identified and analysed. And one of the most important factors
is an inadequate moral formation which consequently leads to a poor capacity to
discern between a moral dilemma.
The so-called "internal or external control locus" plays an important role in
the decision to use or not to use illegal substances. We understand the internal
locus as the capacity to measure the consequences of one's own actions. And
external locus as the incapacity to accept responsibility for the consequences
of our own actions, blaming drug consumption to chance and outside
The social models publicised, such as drug traffickers or gangsters, who are
magnified on TV or the movies, produce patterns that can be imitated, such as
"easy money, power and almost omnipotence". The cases of
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.
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
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.
- Training of "street educators".
- Recruitment of street children.
- Establishment of support and legal networks (with judges and attorneys for
minors, school headmasters /headmistresses and teachers, donors of food,
clothes, medicines, etc., hospitals and health centres, recreational centres,
- Development of the program itself: modification of undesirable conducts,
implementation of desirable behaviours, psychological therapy, medical
attention, school reinsertion, family reinsertion (should this be the case),
work with the families. Training in different skills. Process to become
Family reinsertion rate: 33%
Complementary Programs to the "Piranhas to Dolphins" Program:
- 1. Creation of 12 centres for the prevention of physical and psychological
battering for the boys, girls and adolescents in locations identified as having
the highest levels of mistreatment (according to CEDRO's research).
Objective: To diminish mistreatment by providing families with the opportunity
of following a psychological support process as well as information and training
through the "School for Parents" and other methodologies. In addition, the rate
of children and adolescents expelled from their homes will decrease.
Community support networks will be established and will work closely with the
"Legal Offices for the Defence of Children and Adolescents". These networks will
include, in special, female community leaders who will be permanently trained
and will be supported in the knowledge and use of referral systems.
- 2. Protected work system for adolescents
Objective: To promote licit conducts through a system of protected work for
adolescents --under conditions approved by Peruvian regulations-- that will
modify their habits of stealing.
This program is sponsored by the local governments. It consists in the
installation of booths, mainly within university campuses, clubs or any other
locales that will help avoid vandalism. The booth is given in concession to a
young adult, providing him with an occupation. This concessionaire "hires" an
for three and a half hours, paying him/her a small salary that is deposited in
the minor's savings account. At the moment, the program has 40 booths and 40
- 3. Discouragement of child work, supported by local governments. Improvement
of the quality of life of children and adolescents who work
Objective: To discourage child work, decreasing the risk of drug use,
involvement in microcommercialisation, accidents and school desertion by
children. Also improve the quality of life of the working adolescents.
The program is closely co-ordinated with the Municipality of San Borja and
through the work with the family and the school, it tries to achieve the
stability of the minor in these environments. In addition, it encourages the
families to discourage child work and to establish a psychological and health
support network to improve the quality of life of the minors.
CEDRO and the Municipality of San Borja are currently working with 600 children
and adolescents who live in the district.
- Program with Children and Adolescents, Offspring of Drug Micro-Traffickers
Objective: To work from education in morale, the internalisation of values in
girls, boys and adolescents who live in an environment of coca paste micro-
commercialisation, especially in two sectors of the city of Lima (San Miguel and
Barrios Altos). This will contribute to improve the future lives of these
The work in these neighbourhoods is performed parallel, with the children and
the parents. A sub-program has started with the parents to train them in the
establishment of small businesses and legal trade.
The program in Barrios Altos has also worked in one of the boys' schools in the
neighbourhood, specifically working with boys in their last two years of high
school. The program is called "Substitution to Aggression", which has three
subcomponents: a) control and handling of rage; b) strengthening of skills for
life; and c) training for moral
perception. (This program has been adapted from an original model developed by
Goldstein in the Bronx, New York, USA).
During its pilot stage, the program began and ended with an almost experimental
research with a control group and an intervention group. It is important to
highlight that the area that showed the highest deficit was moral perception.
The students between 14 and 18 years reached a moral perception level equivalent
to the level that should be reached by a 10 year old boy (according to the
The program's intervention lasts 6 months and is based on the training on the
sub-components mentioned before through a strategy of structured learning.
The greatest achievements were the strengthening of skills and the control of
rage. Moral perception did not improve substantially, which leads us to believe
that there is a need for more intensive and longer programs with earlier
- Development of Methodologies in favour of Peace and the
Prevention of Drug Abuse
This program bases its work fundamentally on values, the strengthening of
skills, and decision taking among students. The modality of work is non-formal
Objective: To reduce the risk of drug abuse, school desertion and the
involvement in delinquent actions.
Following are the methodologies permanently being developed between students and
- Skills for Life
- Natural Leaders
- Adventure for Life (adapted from the Basque Country).
- Program with Male and Female Inmates Convicted for Drug Trafficking: the Male
Prison for Primary Inmates of Lima, and the Women's Prison of Chorrillos
Objective: The program aims to achieve the social reinsertion of the inmates and
ex-inmates from the two prisons mentioned above, through an integral scope of
work that includes: psychological support (to increase their
self-esteem), legal support, and training in different skills as well as the
provision of small credits.
Within this context, the moral education of the inmates is a fundamental
component. This service is provided through nonconventional techniques such as
the collective creation of theatrical activities, and the collective creation,
edition and publication of a news bulletin by the convicts themselves (the
latter with CEDRO's support) The bulletin is called "Open Doors".
Through the National Penitentiary Institute (INPE), CEDRO also works two other
levels of the program: a) with ex-inmates providing them with monitoring,
psychological support, and training as well as counselling for a better family
and labour reinsertion; and b) with staff of the National Penitentiary Institute
providing them with training on human relations and the handling of imprisonment
with the inmates themselves.
- Program with Community and Religious Leaders within a Culture of Peace
Objective: To achieve the involvement of male and female leaders, preferably
young adults, through community and/or religious networks. These leaders will
support prevention activities to accomplish a reduced incidence of drug use and
micro-commercialisation, which will be the result of the work they will perform
as multiplying agents.
This program operates through grass-root organisations, especially juvenile and
church institutions. Besides providing training to the multiplying agents, the
program's aim is involve these agents in the development of concrete actions in
favour of adolescents and children through systematised contents that emphasise
moral values, health care and a good use of the free time.
The program firmly believes that through the strengthening of the organisation,
the quality of life will rise, both materially and spiritually.
The program is more intense during summer, and by the end of a year of
activities, it reaches approximately 10,000 beneficiaries.
The program considers the following subjects:
- Human rights
- Pro-social conducts
- Cultural identity
- Education in values
- Life coherence
- The religious group and its commitment to the community
Within this context, an intense work is done with women to strengthen their
leadership, including the following themes:
- Woman's mental health
- Woman's identity
- Woman's rights and values
- Family violence
- Decision taking
- Employment and community participation
- Leadership and organisation
- Human rights and gender
One of the strategies used during this program is the promotion of reading in 70
community libraries sponsored by CEDRO. Another one is the promotion of sports,
arts, recreation and contact with nature. CEDRO firmly believes that if we
expand the cultural and spiritual dimensions of a person, we will be able to
reduce the risks of drug consumption and the involvement in delinquent actions.
The recollection of books for the libraries follows various strategies:
exchange, musical concerts where the entrance fee is a book, collection of
donations from individuals, donations from high class schools, among others.
- Work in Coca Producing Areas with Farmers and their Families
Objective: To support the efforts of the Government to decrease coca crops, thus
diminishing drug availability. In addition, the program aims to increase
awareness among the farmers and their families regarding the high costs on their
individual, familial and collective health when linked with illicit activities.
The program in coca producing areas aims to:
- Promote a cultural change by creating awareness on the risks of drug use,
production and trafficking.
- Involve the whole family in an integral action to promote their health and the
defence of the environment.
- Develop occupational programs alternative to coca leaf production that will
serve as pilot experiences that are potentially profitable for the farmers.
Our institution, CEDRO, is convinced that the drug problem can not be isolated
from the country's global reality,
history and its current situation.
Drug arises from corruption, and in turn it corrupts. only by rising the levels
of moral perception and promoting the ethics of common goodness will we be able
to reduce its incidence significantly.
The preventive work at all its levels (reduction of drug production, trafficking
and consumption) is linked to the strengthening of democracy, the establishment
of peace, a self-sustainable development, and to a permanent work in moral and
The fight against poverty requires investment, both economic and educational,
meaning also a hard battle against mental underdevelopment. Within this last
concept we should include lack of ethics and absence of a strong and committed
morale. All of us, together, must promote the changes, committing ourselves to
join efforts with the adolescents.
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.
CEAPAZ. Flecha en el Azul ("Arrow in the Blue"). Magazine No. 1, Year 1 (July
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
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).