Mexico City Bans Cages, Restraints on Neglected, Disabled Children

An advocacy group has worked with the city to provide better living conditions for children in its care.
4:30 | 07/31/15

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Transcript for Mexico City Bans Cages, Restraints on Neglected, Disabled Children
Finally tonight, Mexican billionaires are now worth more than $144 billion between them. In the shadows of all that wealth, many of the most vulnerable residents, forgotten children, virtually live like animals. Here's "World news tonight" anchor David Muir. Reporter: We travel the streets of Mexico City in search of the children. ABC news getting the black list obtained by disability rights international. Facilities the government says are abusive, in bad condition. Yet children are still dropped off. Authorities put these institutions on a black list? Yes. But they're still open? Yes. Does the public know about the black list? They don't know. Reporter: They're about to. Our first stop, we walk up to the metal door of the unsettling maze of locked doors, padlocks on nearly every door, every window. Children of all ages, many left by parents, some with disabilities, some from detention centers, under one roof. Commotion outside this door. No doorknob. A little girl peering out. She'd been locked in the bathroom. We walk upstairs, the Gates are locked, children mopping for fun. Government money keeping this home open. Even though it's on the government black list. Did you find any evidence of doctors? No. Therapists? No. Teachers, no, no psychiatrists, nothing. Reporter: Armed with her notepad her list is growing. We head back to the van. The next stop, we're told, even worse. Through the front door, right into the standing water. We find more than 20 children. And this is another one of those blacklisted facilities here in Mexico City. If you come up the stairs, we've been told there are about 20 children living in this building right now. Many of the rooms are absolute squalor. In one room where children sleep, behind the curtain you cannot see the floor. Look at the floor. See the garbage? There's a child. There's kids. There are children in the corner there. Reporter: And still a smile from a little girl in red. Why would you bring a child here in the first place? This is standing water. The government is totally abandoning these children. It is total abandonment. Mexico is falling short. These are fundamental human rights violations. Reporter: Past this green gate, a facility not on that list but getting government money. Children with disabilities inside cages. Rows of them. Locked up. A boy named Julio alone in a corner. Eric Rosenthal, the founder of disability rights international, shows me Andres. This is just complete neglect. Reporter: And their explanat explanation? They were telling us the last time we were here, he was a fussy eater. Reporter: All you could hear was the boy clenching his jaw. His clenching jaw is making more noise -- It's horrible to hear. That is the product of years and years of neglect. He knows we're here. Reporter: We hold this boy's hand and immediately he smiles. We ask the nun watching over us, is he okay spending all of these hours alone? He's happy, she tells us. This worker trying to shake him back into the seat to restrain him. We notice this boy hanging by his hands on the bars over a treadmill. But the directors of the facilities tell us the children have a good quality of life, they are clean, they are fed, they have a place to live. He spends 24 hours a day in this cage? They'll take him out for one hour. The moment I put my hand in, he grabbed my hands. Yeah. If you put your arm around him he would have smiled. People are going to look at these children in cages and think, these are images we haven't seen since the '50s. That's because they don't know that they're there. Reporter: Just this past week, hours before going public, an urgent phone call from Mexican authorities. They want to meet. ABC news in the room with them. Authorities telling us there will be an immediate government order. The ministry for social development telling us, Mexico City will immediately ban all cages, all restraints. A victory. Remembering the children's faces and the toys they showed us. Eager to take a walk with a reporter. Past those cables for good. I'm David Muir for "Nightline" in Mexico City. Our thanks to David. It was Frederick Douglas who said, it is easier to raise a strong boy than it is to heal a broken man.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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