Over 40% of Brazilians aged up to 14 live in poverty

The percentage represents 17.3 million youths

Published in 24/04/2018 - 15:15 By Camila Boehm reports from Agência Brasil - São Paulo

In Brazil, over 40 percent of children and adolescents 14 years old or younger live in a poor home—a total of 17.3 million young people. Those facing extreme poverty amount to 5.8 million, or 13.5%. Poverty and extreme poverty are characterized by a monthly household income per capita of up to half and a fourth of Brazil’s minimum wage ($277), respectively.

The figures can be found in the publication “The Scenario of Childhood and Adolescence in Brazil,” released today (Apr. 24) by the Abrinq Foundation, a nonprofit organization for the rights of children and adolescents. The study links social indicators to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a global commitment for the promotion of development goals to be met by 2030, to which Brazil has subscribed, along with 192 countries.

“Some of these goals are definitely not going to be achieved by Brazil, unless investments are made in public policies directed at the more vulnerable portions of the population. Without investment, it becomes really difficult to fulfill this agreement,” argued Abrinq Executive Administrator Heloisa Oliveira.

One of the most challenging goals in education regards access to day care. “There’s a goal, which is part of the National Education Plan: to provide access to 50% of the population aged up to 3 years old [by 2024]. If you don’t increase investment as well as the number of spots available at day care centers—we currently stand at 27% of coverage—we won’t reach the 50% stipulated by the National Education Plan,” Oliveira maintained.

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One of the most challenging goals in education regards access to day care - Antonio Cruz/Arquivo Agência Brasil

The eradication of child labor is also hard to attain. “The deal [forged with the UN] mandates that countries eradicate all sorts of slave and child labor by 2025. We [Brazilians] still have 2.5 million children in labor situation. If investment isn’t put towards eradicating child labor, this target will certainly not be met,” she remarked.

The report, Oliveira added, highlights how vulnerable young people are to poverty. She argued that, whereas children and adolescents represent approximately 33% of the Brazilian population, the rate is higher among the poor. “When poverty and age are considered together, one notices that, among the poorer sections of the population, there is an even higher proportion of children and adolescents [40.2%]. This makes clear how much children are vulnerable to poverty,” she pointed out.

Oliveira went on to stress how important it is to look at indicators from a local perspective, as the national average fails to reveal what goes on in the poorest parts of the country. Regarding income, the Northeast and the North still struggle with the worst scenarios, with 60% and 54% of children living in poverty, respectively, against a national average of 40.2%.

“Brazil is a vast and extremely unequal country, so if you look at regional figures, you see that poorer regions concentrate the worst indicators for education, access to water and sanitation, and access to day care, for example.”

Violence

The document also reveals that 18.4% of murders committed in Brazil in 2016 claimed the lives of people aged up to 19 years old—10,676. Most of these youths (80.7%) were killed by gunfire.

Violence comes as a result of a lack of investment in basic social policies, Oliveira argued. “If investment is directed towards keeping children and adolescents in school until they get basic education—as mandated by Brazilian law, up to the age of 17—if investment is made in the protection of families and sport activities and centers for children and adolescents, you get a considerably lower number of youths involved in violence,” she remarked.

Oliveira cautions that, in order to reduce violence and the number of murders within this age group, investing in public security is not enough. “The best indicator for public security is a school drop-out rate at zero,” she said.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: David Oliveira/Amanda Cieglinski

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