Youth gangs – “maras” – in Central America

Youth gangs – “maras” – in Central America
Monday October 09, 2006

Dear Alice Miller:

I am an admirer of yours and have many of your books. The first three — Das drama des begabten Kindes, Am Anfang war Erziehung, and Du sollst nicht merken — I bought in 1983 in Zurich in a bookstore at the train station.

I am from Honduras. All the Central American countries have a grave problem with very violent youth gangs. It is said Salvadorenians started this type of gang in Los Angeles from where it spread back to Central America. It is a problem also in the USA.

I wonder whether you have looked into this problem and whether you have any advice. I actually wanted to ask whether you would be available for consulting work on the subject, for the governments of Honduras and neighboring countries.

Regards, A. B.

AM: Thank you for your letter. I am willing to answer all questions concerning the causes if violence, but I don’t know of any government that would be interested in my answers because almost all of us were once beaten children. Thus most of us are afraid of punishment if they realize the truth. Instead of confronting it, they deny the suffering of their past and are unable to understand the rage of the youth. They speculate a lot about the causes of violence, while carefully avoiding the issue of child-mistreatment, and thus are helpless towards the destructive behavior of the gangs. However, it is more than understandable that children who learn from their parent’s violence in their first years of life keep these lessons in the structure of their brain, mostly forever – if society continues to stay blind.