Institutional violence perpetrated against children in conflict with the law is a fundamental concern for the protection of children and adolescent rights. International standards of human rights, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, have identified youth as one of the groups which need special assistance and protection for rehabilitation and reintegration into society. In reality, they are often the most vulnerable members of society, and are routinely submitted to the worst forms of violence.
Legal systems were designed to be the ultimate protectors of societies and individuals, yet it is not uncommon for those in power to violate the rights of the State’s own citizens. Authorities throughout history and in all regions of the world have exploited political unrest, economic hardship or natural disasters as an excuse to promote repressive and arbitrary strategies against children and youth. These actions often contradict international human rights laws and agreements. Stigmatized and vulnerable, children and youth in conflict with the law have difficulty to insert themselves in their communities, and are habitually subjected to degrading treatment by state authorities and institutions.