Latin America and the Caribbean

18 October 1994

(National Movement of Street Boys and Girls)



It is an autonomous non-governmental popular organization, founded in 1985, composed basically of volunteers, aimed at supporting children and adolescents in their own struggle for securing and defending their rights as citizens.


The National Movement of Street Boys and Girls (MNMMR) was neither born in a particular site in Brazil nor did it have a sole founder. It was born as a result of a particular moment in history combined with the joint action of groups of street educators engaged in various assistance programs; people from different religious organizations, instructors from goverment institutions, and community social service agents, who have been engaged since the early 80's in alternative efforts regarding the assistance of street boys and girls.

In the late 70's, the situation of poor children and adolescents - mostly known as the "minor's issue" or "street children's issue" - had already become a grave and complex social problem. The modernization and industrialization processes, and the development model which the country adopted prompted the rapid growth of large urban centers and income concentration, aggravating existing poverty levels. Children and adolescents have become the main victims of these processes which have brought about increases in infant mortality rates, a fall in life expectancy, earlier entry into the labor force, school drop out, and an increasing presence of peddling and loitering boys and girls on the streets.

It may be said that during this period there were basically two views and practices regarding the handling of the problem: one of them, generally undertaken by government initiatives, has been characterized by its repressive and institutional approach, i.e., parting children and adolescents from their living environment and confining them in reform institutions. This approach has been regarded as authoritarian since it neither encourages nor allows the participation of the community in its management. The other approach, adopted by community groups and entities, has created conditions for the boys and girls involved to formulate alternative solutions for their own problems, through assistance programs conducted within the context of the environment to which they belong.

In the early 80's, the Project for Alternative Community Assistance to Street Children (supported by UNICEF, the Ministry of Social Security and Assistance, the National Foundation for Minor's Welfare) was created. It's objective was to learn about new experiences and promote their exchange. The contact among several alternative programs and projects allowed for an intense merger of experiences and deeper reflection about their practices. The need for a more permanent action became evident and prompted the creation of the first local groups. The purpose: congregating people and social resources within the municipality and the region in order to confront the challenges of new practices regarding street boys and girls, and sensitize and mobilize the community to contribute to the proposed effort.

These groups multiplied throughout various states and following a nationwide joint initiative, decided to reate a non- governmental popular organization for the defence and promotion of the rights of millions of boys and girls, which has been named the Movimento Nacional de Meninos e Meninas de Rua (MNMMR), that is, the National Movement of Street Boys and Girls.


Children and adolescents must be regarded as human beings in a particular developmental stage; citizens, subject to legitimate rights, who should participate in decisions about their lives, their communities and society in general.


- Encouraging the organization and education of children and adolescents - mainly street boys and girls - in order to ensure their participation and reflection in search of solutions for the problems affecting them and also to secure that their citizen rights are expressed and exercised.

- Acting as a focal point for the organization of a network of educators, service programs and activists for the defense of rights, with visions of breaking the isolation and maximizing the potential of their actions for promoting and defending human and citizen rights of children.

- Participating actively and critical in the elaboration of laws and public policies ( health, education, labour, leisure, transportation, culture, housing, food, freedom, etc ) in order to guarantee their effectiveness and to reach children and adolescents in an efficient manner, and to execute the constitutional principle, "children: absolute priority".

- Contributing to the mobilization, organization and capacitation of existing forces which are part of the society, in order to promote and, defend the human and citizen rights of our children and adolescents.

- Denouncing omissions, transgressions and violations of rights of street boys and girls.


The Local Committee is the basic unit of the MNMMR comprised of a minimum of five members, belonging to different children and adolescents' rights assisting programs or similar entities, committed to the cause and identified with the philosophy of the MNMMR. There are three categories of members: permanent (educators and activists), affiliated (boys and girls) and collaborators (citizens, professional and technical advisors, and service programs). The Committee may include more than one municipality or in one municipality there may be more than one Committee.

-> The Base Nucleus is the basic unit in which children and adolescents participate (affiliated members). It may be formed by a community, a professional category, a work site, a social movement, a service program or any other pedagogically appropriate form. Its structure, working dynamic and type of activity are to be defined by the members of the Nucleus. Each group includes, at least, one educator/chaperon who must be registered in the Local Committee.

-> The State Committee is the highest organizational level of the MNMMR in the states. Its duties consist of coordinating, conducting and executing the directives and priorities of the Movement and contributing to strengthening the Local Committees and the Base Nucleus. The number of members, its structure and working dynamic are defined in the state assembly.

-> The National Council is a consulting and deliberating body formed by representatives from each state, who are elected in the state assembly and the members of the National Executive Committee. It's structure and working dynamic are defined in the Internal Procedures.

-> The National Executive Committee is the highest organizational level, the national level, of MNMMR. It includes five members elected by the National Assembly for a two-year term and works as a collective. The positions for which members are elected are: National Coordinator, National Coordinator Adjunct, National Secretaries for Organization and Finance.

-> The Fiscal Council is composed of six members elected at the National Assembly for a two-year assignment. Three members are permanent and the other three are deputies. The Fiscal Council's role is to have fiscal control of management of the finances for the various aspects of the Movement.

Today, the MNMMR is established in 24 of the 27 Brazilian states and in the process of becoming established in the remaining states of Roraima, Rondnia and Tocantins. There are 60 registered Local Committees comprising nearly one thousand affiliated educators/activists and another two thousand attached to its action network. Through its activities it is possible to reach nearly 10,000 children and adolescents. In addition to the National headquarters in Brasilia, the MNMMR has state secretariats in nearly all Brazilian states. The Local Committees normally use premises offered by other organizations in the civil society or the homes of activists and educators.


The MNMMR actions, on one side, are aimed at defending the rights of children and adolescents in several segments of the society, mainly those which make decisions related to the area; on the other, it contributes to the organization and development of boys and girls to have more and more power as agents in their own defence of their rights.

The MNMMR action may be grouped according to the following operational lines:


There are three areas of action: the legal environment, public policies and defence against violations.

- Proposing laws for implementation at municipal, state and national levels in order to improve the present legislation; exercising vigilance over the Legislative Power in order to assure the rights of children and adolescents.

- Participating in the formulation of public policies through the councils on rights and intervening in the reshaping of government and non-government institutions responsible for providing services to children and adolescents, in order to improve the quality of services provided.

- Combating the various forms of violence against children and adolescents, i. e., child abuse, illegal imprisonment, slavery, child labour, prostitution and, as a priority, the execution of street children.


The Base Nuclei are constituted of the children and adolescents from the poorest population, predominently boys and girls in the street and the working poor. This is the principal line of action of the MNMMR. The actions undertaken are intended to bring together, or nucleus, children and adolescents for a variety of activities where they live, at work sites, and in the streets for those who have the streets as their primary place, to struggle for survival.

The nuclei are the spaces where management is shared by the boys and girls themselves; where they can discuss their condition of being excluded from the society; obtain information and awareness of their rights and of the public services available, and formulate alternative solutions for their lives. The nuclei have two purposes: education for citizenship and the development of the concepts of collective forms of solidarity through the exercise of mutual support, in this regard, it is the invention and continuous reinvention of a new ethics for human solidarity.

The pedagogical approaches are based upon the principles of popular education put into practice by street educators and activists of the rights of children and adolescents. The development of leisure activities is one the main components of this approach.

The Nucleus is the initial and basic link with the MNMMR. Beyond this, boys and girls are free to invent, design and build their own forms of organization. In the process of shared-management, negotiations regarding other manners and forms of basic relationships between the children and the educators takes place. The purpose of which is to enable children and adolescents to become conscious of their strength and power in order to stimulate their role as main defenders of their own rights.


The MNMMR has a national system for the training and development of educators: the Center for the Formation and Support of Educators and Social Agents of Defence of Children and Adolescents' Rights. Its actions comprise three areas: capacitation, studies and research, advise and services to assistance programs. Its structure is decentralized through, three "Poles" ( SFo Paulo - Pole I, Belm - Pole II and Recife - Pole III), each of which pursues a close tuning with the cultural and regional peculiarities.

The system's action aims at encouraging reflection, debate, exchange of experiences and conveying the necessary knowledge for the formulation of pedagogical approaches and public policies that attend to the needs of the diverse segments that are composed of society's excluded children and adolescents. The Center intends to challenge conventional practices and become producer rather than a mere reproducer of knowledge. A goal is to build a section for supporting services which include a library, video facilities and direct advisement for programs of social education.

The Local and State Committees have the same objectives and functions of the Formation Center.


In order to develop the planned actions and possess the power to claim, press and negotiate policies for assisting the rights of children and adolescents, it is necessary forthe MNMMR to strengthen internally. This is done through meetings and assemblies which define lines, positions and strategies for the achievement of objectives.

The MNMMR seeks further to decentralize from the capital cities spreading throughout the interior of the country, particularly in the average-sized cities, border areas, panning areas and the so- called "great development projects". By doing so, it aims at contributing to the defence of the rights of boys and girls who live in difficult circumstances and in the process of municipalization of the policies regarding children and adolescents.

The importance and dimension of the struggle leads us to engage in partnership, articulations and join in setting up tactical and strategical alliances with other social, unionist and popular movements which have similar principles and philosophies.


- Development and organization of thousands of children and adolescents to practice citizenship.

- Creation of opportunities for children and adolescents to particate in a process of re-signification of their lives resulting for many in abandoning drugs, crime or prostitution and seek to join the educational programs.

- Promotion of municipal and state meetings and three national meetings of street boys and girls.

- Contributions to the inclusion of the street boys' and girls' issue in the agendas of government officials and of the Brazilian society as a whole.

- Participation in the process of organization and strengthening of the civil society: National Permanent Forum of Non- governmental Entities for the Defence of the Children and Adolescents' Rights - (DCA) and other similar forums; creating the Brazilian branch of Defence for Children International - (DCI); creating and articulating the network of defence centers; articulating a network of study nuclei in the universities and creating committees of children and adolescents' rights within trade and central unions.

- Contributions to the defense of children's and adolescent's rights: inclusion of Article 227 and 228 in the Federal Constitution; articles ensuring rights in the constitutions of most states and in the basic law of several municipalities. Participation in the elaboration of the Children and Adolescents' Statute and the mobilization of society for its approval by Congress. Proposing laws for the creation of councils on rights and protections. In short, changing the Brazilian legal environment.

- Contributions to the changing of policies for children and adolescents in accordance to the guidelines imposed by the Children and Adolescents' Statute and formulated by the councils on rights and protection.

- Capacitation of thousands of educators and activists of the rights of boys and girls; assisting programs of direct attention which have resulted in an exchange of experiences; improving the quality of services and increasing the number of assisted children through support to the emergence of new programs and projects serving children and adolescents.

- Dissemination of the successful experiences conforming to the Children's and Adolescent's Statute and, the production of a pedagogical and working methodology committed to the rights, as citizens, of the street boys and girls.

- Continuously combating the systematic violations of human and citizen rights of children and adolescents, above all in the struggle against the extermination of street children.


- Honourable Mention in Human Rights of 1988, presented by the Alceu Amoroso Lima Centre for Freedom.

- Child Prize, National Priority 1990, presented by UNICEF to the Forum of Non-governmental Entities for the Defence of the Children and Adolescents' Rights (DCA).

- Human Rights Prize 1991, presented by the Association for Human Rights of Ecuador.

- International Prize of Human Rights 1991, granted by the Association for Human Rights of Spain.

- Child Prize 92, presented by the ABRINQ's Foundation of Children Rights in recognition of the creative and innovative manner in which the MNMMR develops its work with street children and adolescents.

- Certificate celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Workers' Central Union (CUT) in 1993, in recognition of the support given by the MNMMR to the workers struggle for the defence of democracy, union freedom and better living conditions.

- C. Henry Kempe Memorial Prize 1994, presented by the International Society for the Prevention of Abuse and Negligence Against Children - Colorado/USA.

- Human Rights Prize 1994, presented by the Independent Bar Organization of Minnesota/USA.

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