The study is based on the Sociology of Childhood that defines childhood as a three-dimensional concept. The first-dimension addresses childhood as a social construction, which is separate from the essential idea of the childish being. This social construction has been expressed in different ways across history and in every sociopolitical context. The second dimension defines childhood as a permanent sociological category of the social structure, although its members are constantly renewed. The third dimension comprises children as “social actors with an agency capacity” that open generational and gender relations of power with other actors, both within their families and in other social areas. Nevertheless, that social role is not often recognized in society and in academics. This is due to the adult centrism that discriminates against them because of their age and economic dependence. In this research, the social integration of migrant children is analyzed through semi-structured interviews with migrant children aged 8 to 15, as well as by participant observation in state Offices of Rights Protection. It is taken to be the exercise of its rights and the development of transnational practices and how social intervention hinders and/or provides that integration. Finally, the research concludes stating that migratory trajectories and diverse social factors (such as gender, age, language, place of birth, nationality, and social position, among others) have an impact on the accommodation and social integration of the new immigrant generations living in Chile.
Abbreviations: immigrant, children, rights, social politics, Chile.
Large numbers of Peruvians began arriving in Santiago starting in early 1996, consisting mainly of young and adult women who send remittances to their families in Peru. But it was not until 2000 when migration flows began to steadily accelerate, a situation that continues to this day. Since 2004 gradually accelerate the process of family reunification by Peruvian women pioneers in migratory chains and networks to Chile .
The long hours and the lack of a support network in the destination country hinder reunification of children with families. Parents and, especially, Peruvian mothers know that is difficult to reconcile childcare work with paid work without the support of their families. It has been observed  that once children come to Chile there is a possibility that they are without adult company when they come home from school and, therefore, in a situation of social vulnerability [3-5].
The incorporation rates of immigrant children in the Chilean school system include a number of requirements that sometimes are hard to achieve for some families due to lack of planning,money and time. In order to request the enrollment in any school or the student visa application, the necessary income and the legalization of documents at home are needed. However, this sometimes becomes a vicious circle, as the school requires to children to have the start visa regular tuition, but at the same time the Peruvian Consulate in Chile requests the Certificate of Regular Student school visa procedures . According to the 2005 enrollment figures from the Ministry of Education, of a total of 3,779,459 (three million seven hundred seventy nine thousand four hundred fifty nine) students, 23,500 (twenty three thousand five hundred) are foreigners and, of these approximately 45% are undocumented .
The information analyzed in this paper comes from an analysis of national and international legal regulations in force in Chile that affect the exercise of children’s rights. In this research, the social integration of migrant children is analyzed through semi-structured interviews with migrant children aged 8 to 15, as well as by participant observation in state Offices of Rights Protection.
It is taken to be the exercise of its rights and the development of
transnational practices and how social intervention hinders and/
or provides that integration. All names have been changed to
protect the confidentiality of the information collected and the
right to privacy of children, as it is stipulated in the Convention
on the Rights of the Child. The categorization and coding of the
interviews was conducted with the computer program at last
through the technique of critical discourse analysis . The scope
of this study is descriptive.
The study is based on the Sociology of Childhood that
defines childhood as a three-dimensional concept. The firstdimension
addresses childhood as a social construction, which
is separate from the essential idea of the childish being. This
social construction has been expressed in different ways across
history and in every sociopolitical context. The second dimension
defines childhood as a permanent sociological category of the
social structure, although its members are constantly renewed.
The third dimension comprises children as “social actors with an
agency capacity” that open generational and gender relations of
power with other actors, both within their families and in other
social areas. Nevertheless, that social role is not often recognized
in society and in academics. This is due to the adult centrism that
discriminates against them because of their age and economic
In the fieldwork developed with parents where child migration
processes (family reunification) were addressed, they comment
that before the child arrival, they seek information about schools
and the necessary documents for enrollment and subsequent
regularization papers. Another aspect that families consider is
referred to address changes and changes in working hours, in
order to reconcile childcare with jobs. Sometimes families borrow
money to finance the trip for children and accommodation
expenses. Since many parents travel to Peru for the year-end
holidays and the summer holidays (January-February) and then
return to Chile, usually (but not always) the date of arrival of
Peruvian children coincides with the beginning of the school year
The motivations and emotions that children experience about
their own migration, once their parents are already in Chile, are
varied. Through the interviews, it is possible to verify that the
desire to know other places operates as a travel facilitator of
children. In the next segment, in the interview with Aurora -from
Lima- is evident how anxious she was to know Chile, whose image
had idealized presumably by the comments of her mother.
Yes, I wanted to come to Chile. I was anxious because I wanted
to know, I wanted to know Chile, that’s why. I thought everything
was nice, and I realized that the school was nice, Chile was nice and
I noticed it in that moment (Aurora, 9 years-old, Santiago).
This is similar to Kasumi’s story, who openly admits that
her mother gave her some determined ideas on Chilean society.
She even warned her about possible racist attacks. As Fouron
and Glick-Shiller  point out, transnational generations live
permanently with ideas and imaginary scenarios about the
country of destination, so when they migrate, the child has certain
information and they, somehow, know the place:
As my mother had been here, she said it was very nice and there
were plants everywhere, that it was better. She said that people
were different, some of them will be very racist, and others will
understand, things like that. (Kasumi 13 years-old, Santiago).
The transit of ideas, experiences and opinions on the place of
destination is part of what Levitt  calls the “social remittances”
that parents transmit to their offspring through the transnational
social field and are constituted as symbolic exchanges .
In the following excerpt from Rosario’s interview, these “social
remittances” are shown, in terms of the ideas associated with the
destination as a place with opportunities that should be seized
[17,18]. Her response is very interesting when she was asked
about her opinion regarding to the moment that her mother
announces to the whole family that she is going to immigrate to
Chile, where was the father. Despite her insecurities, she confesses
her intrinsic motivation to travel to other countries and their
desire to know the world.
Q: What did you think in that minute when she said she was
coming to Chile?
R: I didn’t feel too bad because I wanted to know more of the
world, more countries.
Q: Did you want to come to Chile?
R: I wasn’t so sure, but yes, I wanted to come...go (Rosario, 9
In the same direction is Matías’ comment who just wanted
to visit Chile during holidays, but he must stay there because he
doesn’t have the corresponding documents for an immigrant child.
“I wanted to come to Chile on vacation, because I wanted to see
the place. And then I couldn’t get out, I couldn’t leave the country
because of my ID, I don’t have an ID” (Matías, 10 years-old, Santiago).
Estrella and María- who are twin sisters native to Chimboteinterpret
their own migration as a way to escape the situation of
abuse they received from the people who were in charge of their
care- that is, their grandmother and grandfather. Estrella says
her brother also assaulted her. All this is exacerbated by physical
distance from their mother. In one point the story of Estrella and
María agreed: they desired to travel to Chile to be near their mother.
The parent appears in this scene as a caregiver and attachment
figure, coherent idea about what is expected of a “mother” from
gender roles (Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001; Parella 2005; Lamas
2007) [19-21]. This is linked to the feeling of guilt experienced by
Peruvian mothers and the eventual sense of abandonment felt by
children, after separations from their mothers and the physical
violence present in their families:
“I wanted to come for my mom. Because in Peru I almost didn’t
get use to my grandparents, they were very bad. They didn´t hit me
because I didn’t let them, I used to escape. But my dad worked at
night [so] he left me there. Or my sister took me to school. Or my
tedious brother grabbed me and kicked me. And one day my dad
grabbed him up and hit him. To solve it, he hit him (laughs). (Estrella,
12 years-old, Santiago).
“I did want to come, because I wanted to be with my mom. I
wanted to be with her. But in that part, I wanted to come and go
with my mom to Peru.
Q: Did you want to come and look for her?
R: Yes (laughs). And I said: I want to go there and come back
again, because I’ve already had my mom” (María, 12 years-old,
Generational violence experienced by the girls in their places
of origin may be considered as a cause of migration at the same
analytical and empirical level that is wielded by some women
victims of gender violence.
On the other hand, the contradictions felt by boys and girls
about their own migration are well summarized in the following
quote from Alexia. This situation has also appeared in other
interviews conducted in Santiago and is probably due to the
geographical proximity between Peru and Chile. It is also the result
of an existing legal framework characterized by flexibility, allowing
greater mobility of migrant families between both countries. The
Alexia fragment allows understanding that children felt gains and
losses involving migration, conclusions similar to those obtained
by Suarez-Orozco  and Suarez-Orozco  studies:
Last year, I was told that I was going over there [Chile] on
vacation. Ok, I went there. First, I went with my dad and my mom;
we were in the car, and all. And then we come to Santiago and we got
to the room and all. And then with my dad I went back to Peru ... and
... and then the year past. And the other year, and then they told me
we’re going to Chile and I was going to study there and all. One part
of me wanted to go but the other one didn’t. The part that I wanted
to was because I could be with my mom and dad, and the part that I
didn’t want to was because I didn’t want to leave my family and my
friends and everything. (Alexia, 9 years-old, Santiago).
For Arturo, besides to appreciate the reunion with his parents,
he considers that migration allows access to higher educational
opportunities (more scholarships) and labor.
“The good thing is that you are with your parents...I mean,
also to take advantage of what they have here. They give you more
scholarships, more opportunities. I mean more opportunities to
work” (Arturo, 14 years-old, Santiago).
The fragment of Mia’s interview also appreciates the experience
of being in Chile associated, in her case, to the fact that she could
establish ties of friendship, but without hiding the difficulties for
integration and, feeling the respective homesickness of being far
from your home country:
“At first it was terrible because I couldn’t find friends anywhere.
Then, I was invited to the “group”. I joined to participate to the
group, I met more people. And now, I’m still not 100% adapted, but
I’m adapted a little bit...I’m adapted a little bit. But I find life here is
better than there. The good thing is I have friends who are nice, cool.
The downside of being in Chile is that I miss too much; I really miss
the place where I was born, friends, and the places where I hang
out with my girlfriends. That’s the bad thing about being here in
Chile (...) Difficult, very difficult, because upon arrival, you have to
adapt, try to adapt...because it is not easy to get there and adjust
right away, it costs too much, that [is] difficult” (Mia, 14 years-old,
The research concludes that migratory trajectories and
diverse social factors (such as gender, age, language, place of birth,
nationality, and social position, among others) have an impact on
the accommodation and social integration of the new immigrant
generations living in Chile. For girls and boys, participants in this
study, their own migration mean time to reconnect with family as
well as the opportunity to travel and to study in Chile. But they also
know that their migration involves thoroughly away from their
extended family, their friends and all the people that maintain close
ties in Peru. From this point of view, a first conclusion is related to
the child migration implies a loss of sense of belonging. Likewise,
although the fieldwork shows that children’s motivations for
migration itself are varied, it is predominant the idealization of
the country of destination. The participation of girls and boys in
contemporary Peruvian migration processes is shown complex,
contradictory and it varies in each context.
Iskra PS (2010) The rights of girls and children Peruvian migrants in Chile. Childhood as a new actor migration. Journal Approaches 12(8): 27-51.
Patricia L (2004) Children, migration and health: new challenges. In: Children immigrants in Chile: rights and realities, edited by Collective Without Borders, Santiago: Editorial Collective Without Borders-Nest-KINDERNOTHILFE Foundation, Pp.125-134.
Elena VM (2004) Children immigrants. Background. In Children immigrants in Chile: rights and realities, edited by Collective Without Borders. Santiago: Editorial Collective Without Borders-Nest-KINDERNOTHILFE Foundation, Pp. 93-101.
Carolina S, Acosta E, Gaymer M, Casas-Cordero F (2008) Immigrant children in Santiago, Chile. Between integration and exclusion. IOM-Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Santiago, USA.
Iskra PS, Acuña V (2019) Migrant girls in Chile: experiences around harassment streer and sexual violence. Journal Signs 12(2): 36-47.
Pablo M (2006) Exclusion and over-concentration of the migrant student population under a model of socio-territorial segregation. Contest Final Report: Migration and development models in Latin America and the Caribbean. Regional Scholarship Program Clacso.
Van Dijk T (2003) Racism discourse in Spain and Latin America. Gedisa, Barcelona, Spain.
Jenks C (1982) The Sociology of Childhood: Essential Readings. Batsford Academic and Educational.
Qvortrup J (1994) Childhood matters: social theory, practice and politics. Avebury, Aldershot, UK.
James A, Prout A (1997) Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood. Psychology Press.
Berry M (2002) Towards a Sociology for Childhood. Thinking from children’s lives. Open University Press-McGraw-Hill Education, Glasgow, UK.
Lourdes G (2006) Sociology of Childhood. Síntesis, Madrid, Spain.
Iskra PS (2011) Child Migration: generational and gender breakdowns. Peruvian Girls in Barcelona and Santiago de Chile. Doctoral Thesis of Sociology, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.
Georges FE, Glick-Schiller N (2002) The Generation of Identity: Redefinif the Second Generation Within a Transnational Social Field. In: Levitt Peggy and Waters Mary (Eds) The changing face of home. The transnational lives of the second generation. Russell Sage Foundation, New York, USA, Pp. 168-209.
Levitt P (2001) The Transnational Villagers. University of California Press, Berkeley, USA.
Thomas L, Peggy L and Vari-Lavoisier I (2016) Social remittances and the changing transnational political landscape. Comparative Migration Studies 4(16): 1-5.
Charlota S, Sonia P, Leonardo C (2007) The transnational financial and family ties: Ecuadorian and Peruvian immigrants in Spain. BBVA, Madrid, Spain.
Marcela T (2014) Bolivia, history of migrations: past and present. In: Migrations Bolivian at the crossroads interdisciplinary: evolution, changes and trends, Soé, Parella and Petroff. Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, España, Spain, Pp.9-29.
Hondagneu-Sotelo P (2001) Domé Immigrant Workers Cleaning & Caring in the Shadows of Affluence. University of California Press, Berkeley, USA.
Sonia P (2005) Motherhood remote Latin American domestic workers in Spain. The violation of the right to family life in the context of the internationalization of reproduction. In: Gender broken. On violence, freedom and the rights of women in the new millennium, edited by Giro, Joaquin. Catarata, Madrid, Spain, Pp.238-271.
Marta L (2007) Some Reflections on the right to decide over their own bodies. In: Gender and social cohesion, coordinated by Astelarra, Judith. Fundación Carolina, Madrid, Spain, Pp.43-51.
Suarez-Orozco C and Suarez-Orozco M (2003) The children of immigrants. Morata, Madrid.
Suárez-Orozco C and Suárez-Orozco M (2008) Históries d'immigració: la comprensió dels patrons de rendiment escolar dels joves immigrants nouvinguts. Serie: Informes Breus Nº 12 Immigració. Fundació Jaume Bofill, Barcelona, Spain.