Latin America and the Caribbean

Serviço Brasileiro de Justiça e Paz (SEJUP)
1 August 1996


According to a survey carried out by SOS Crianca which was published in the "Folha de Sao Paulo" on July 26, serious crimes committed by street children and adolescents in Sao Paulo are increasing. Even though SOS Crianca attended less children during the first six months of 1996 (3088) than during the same period of 1995 (3186), a rise of 10% to 90% depending on the category was registered for serious crimes. Examples include murder, rape and drug trafficking.

"Street children - and indeed even middle class children, often turn to crime to get money to buy crack. On some such occasions murder often takes place" commented Paulo Vitor Sapienza of SOS Crianca. Over 60% of the adolescents arrested with drugs last year in the city of Sao Paulo were carrying crack. Serious sexual crimes was the category of street children crime which increased most during the first six months of 1996 (21 such crimes) as compared to 11 during the same period of 1995 - an increase of 90.9%. Robbery followed by murder comes in second place in the crime growth when both periods are compared - 31 cases in 1995 and 39 cases this year representing an increase of 25.8%. Murder cases rose by 16.6% from 120 cases in 1995 to 140 in 1996. 226 street children were taken in on charges of drug use during the first half of 1995 and 252 during the same period of 1996. Cases of robbery during the same periods rose from 1251 to 1365. Rape cases fell from 52 during the first half of last year to 15 (an 53.1% decrease) during the same period of 1996. In Riberao Preto - a city in the interior of the State of Sao Paulo, 13 to 17 year old adolescents have been responsible for at least 40% of the 126 murders committed in the city so far this year.

"On many occasions adolescents reproduce the violence of which they themselves are victims principally from street parents" (adults who are not the real parents and who use the children for financial gain) commented SOS's Paulo Vitor Sapienza.

Majority of those infected by the HIV virus in Sao Paulo are youth.

According to calculations made by the State Secretariat of Health, approximately 681 thousand people in the State of Sao Paulo have been infected by the HIV virus. The calculation is based on a estimate of 15 people infected with the virus for every registered case of AIDS. According to data available, it is likely that most are youth and were infected in many cases as adolescents.

Since AIDS first was registered in the State of Sao Paulo until the end of 1995, 45425 cases have been notified to the authorities. During 1995, 5040 new cases were registered - an average of 13.8 per day. So far this year, approximately 2900 cases have been registered. The calculated number of HIV infected people in the state is not accepted by all the medical authorities. The Federal Ministry for Health using statistical projections of the World Health Organization believes that there are between 450 and 500 thousand HIV infected people in the country and that the State of Sao Paulo has approximately 300 thousand.


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