The Problem of Street Children in Brazil

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The world of poverty is a complex one with similarities seen in every society. In Brazil, poverty has created an especially dark situation in which society's most vulnerable children are forced to live or work on the streets and fend for their lives on a daily basis. In many societies, poor children are exposed to street life, but Brazil is interesting in that many of its citizens have changed their mentalities from viewing street children as creative ?urchins? to viewing them as vermin that must be discarded, often through murder, all while blaming the victim. In the world of poverty, there is extreme competition for few resources, and it is other low-income people who often support wiping children off the streets, instead of sympathizing with them. It is a huge paradox that Brazil, with some of the world's most progressive legislation regarding children, encompassed in the Statute of the Child and Adolescent of 1990, also has some of the world?s most horrendous violations of human rights against the group. A combination of market forces, the state, and international organizations must fight poverty and societal structures that leave children susceptible to violence if they, and thus Brazil?s future, are to survive.

The root cause of street children is poverty. ?Rural poverty, neglect, and enforced displacement from the land? forced huge numbers of peasants to leave the countryside for urban areas, hoping for industrial jobs especially in cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo (Jubilee Action 1998). The process of urbanization increased in the 1970s and 1980s, with 56% of Brazil?s population living in urban areas in 1970, which increased to over 75% by 1990 (Moulin and Pereira 2000, 44). Whereas in the rural areas they wer...

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Scheper-Hughes, Nancy and Daniel Hoffman. 1998. ?Brazilian Apartheid: Street Kids and the Struggle for Urban Space.? In Small Wars: The Cultural Politics of Childhood, ed. Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Carolyn Sargent. Los Angeles: The University of California Press.

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