Brazil: Among young people, quarter reports having suffered violence

Early death hits black and brown youth hardest

Published on 17/12/2023 - 15:00 By Gilberto Costa - Agência Brasil - Brasília

Brazilians aged 15 to 29 are more subject to physical, psychological, and sexual violence. Over a quarter of young people (27%) said they had been victims of some kind of aggression in the 12 months prior to the 2019 National Health Survey (PNS/IBGE).

That year, the rate of violence for this age group (307.52 cases/100,000 people) was 2.07 times higher when compared to the adult population. In the case of adolescents aged between 15 and 19, the figure is even worse: 397 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

"In all regions of Brazil, the young-adolescent age group (15 to 19 years old) forms the main group of victims of violence," describes the report titled "Panorama of the Health Situation of Young Brazilians from 2016 to 2022: Intersections between Youth, Health, and Work," released this week by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz).

In addition to the PNS data, the dossier compiles information from the Continuous National Household Sample Survey (PNAD/IBGE) and brings results from Brazil’s public healthcare network’s databases, the SUS. At the time of the research, the population aged 15 to 29 accounted for 49 million people (23% of Brazilians).

According to the diagnosis, a young man is four times more likely to die than a woman—mortality rates of 80.3 percent and 19.7 percent, respectively. Among young men, the proportion of blacks and browns who die early (68%) is more than double that of whites (29%).

“External causes related to violence and traffic accidents rank among the leading contributors to mortality. The highest fatality rates from external causes are found among young people," the Panorama reveals.

Violência contra a mulher, criança e adolescente. Violência doméstica. Foto: Freepick
In all regions of Brazil, the young-adolescent age group (15 to 19 years old) forms the main group of victims of violence - Freepick

Work and health

The Fiocruz dossier points out that 70.1 percent of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 are employed or looking for work. Their working conditions, however, are more volatile than in the older age groups, they are more exposed to informality and turnover, have longer working hours but lower salaries, and have less social protection.

"Work is a fundamental aspect of life for young people in Brazil. They work extensively, often in challenging conditions," summarizes sociologist Helena Abramo, who is responsible for the Panorama. The researcher points out that, in addition to the demanding nature of their work, there is a significant "overlap between work and study"—half of those who study also hold jobs. For women, the impact is even more pronounced due to the historical accumulation of household chores and family care responsibilities, often initiated at a young age.

The workload has an impact on the health of both sexes. The dossier warns that “almost half (46.6%) of employed young people over the age of 18 were exposed, at least once in the 12 months preceding the survey, to factors that could affect their health at work. This statistic is equivalent to more than a quarter (28%) of all young Brazilians."

"Young men have the highest rates and the greatest number of hospitalizations. Over 54 percent of hospitalized young people were male. Mental disorders were the leading cause of hospitalization among young men. The main causes include schizophrenia, psychosis, the use of multiple drugs and other psychoactive substances, and alcohol use," the dossier reads.

Motoboys fazem manifestação, na Esplanada dos Ministérios, em apoio à greve dos caminhoneiros e pela redução do preço dos combustíveis.
"Work is a fundamental aspect of life for young people in Brazil. They work extensively, often in challenging conditions," summarizes sociologist Helena Abramo - Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

Accidents at work

The Panorama of the Health Situation of Young Brazilians also reveals that between 2016 and 2022, there were 1,045,790 reported workplace accidents across the country. Nearly one-third of these accidents involved young people aged between 15 and 29, totaling 345,441 incidents. Of those injured, eight out of ten (78%) were men. The document describes the occupations most associated with accidents as those in industry, services, and commerce.

According to Fiocruz, the data compiled in the Panorama will be used as input for formulating health policies targeting young people. Helena Abramo believes that the systematization of actions can help address a gap in the country's initiatives.

Translation: Mário Nunes -  Edition: Juliana Andrade

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