Children leave school and go out on the streets in search of food for their families
Contrary to what the Child and Adolescent Statute (ECA) has proposed, the number of minors in child labor in the country is still high. Thousands of Brazilians under the age of 18 who are part of a socially vulnerable group leave dreams, studies and the future in the background to try to improve the present.
Joao*, 14 years old, is part of this statistic. She has been selling candy on the street since she was seven years old. His friend Marcus also works with him*16-year-olds who have been selling sweets since the age of 14. The reason they were made to work from a young age is the same: survival.
Despite his young age, street work makes a difference at home at the end of the month, according to teens living in a Mexican 70’s community in Sao Vicente, off the coast of Sao Paulo. Joao, for example, is the older brother of three and works from a very young age to support himself and his family at home.
Joining the 9th year of elementary school this morning, he earns the sweets he sells and keeps all the profits. The teenager, who is black, says he earns about R $ 100 a day and has already become a target of superstition when he sells his sweets.
“Sometimes I come in the afternoon [vender as balas], Sometimes in the morning, whatever. But my real dream is to be a firefighter, “he says Earth.
Marcus, on the other hand, shares what he earns with two older brothers and a younger sister. Every day, he tells them, he meets his friends and works with VLT (light rail) from Sওo Vicente to the neighboring town of Santos. Studying at night allows him to devote all day to selling sweets.
“I work to help my mother, I can buy my things,” she says
Like Joao, Marcus has a dream: to work in a motorcycle dealership and buy his own motorcycle.
Drop out of school
The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines child labor as work that is dangerous and harmful to children’s health and mental, physical, social or moral development and that interferes with their schooling – either deprives them of it, or because it leads. Leaving their elementary school, or because it forces them to combine school attendance with long working hours. The young Samuel Randis, now 18, is an example of what can cause child labor
“When I was younger, I was hungry and sometimes I didn’t even have a fridge in my house so I could open it and see if I had anything to eat,” he said, who started working on the street with his mother. “He went to BNH [conjunto habitacional]He asked us for food to take us home, then I got to know Gonzaga neighborhood and started selling sweets here. ”
It happened when Samuel was about 8 years old. He interrupted his studies when he was in 9th grade and now he runs after documentation to go back to school and try to fulfill his dream of going to college in music. Today, the young man tries to make money from his art, playing the flute in the city streets.
It also fights against social prejudices to get a formal job, because dirty records keep the opportunity away.
“While I was selling candy, I met some guys who did the wrong thing, then I went to Avenida Polista and was arrested for stealing there. Then I went to Fabem,” recalls the young man who crossed the semi-open. Deposit. Rule closed after court order. “I was there for about a year, then I apologized to God and never wanted to steal again. I saw a friend of mine who started stealing, died of a gunshot wound at the age of 14. I saw a 15 year old boy say he Already smoking, that’s a very sad reality. “
This was the initial work which caused another young man to drop out of school. The sad look he sells while sitting on the sidewalk reveals the social weakness to which he is exposed. He, who did not want to be named, said he had been working since the age of 15, the year his mother died. “When I was 15, I was already working as a bricklayer helper, but it was hard to find a job and then I came here about two years ago to sell sweets,” said the 18-year-old.
Father’s support for raising five brothers, he reveals, he has already repeated twice a year at school, due to tedious work routines. Everyday fatigue also eliminates the possibility of his dreaming.
“I think college is still a distant dream for me, because financially something is difficult now. Today I work 12 hours a day and I have stopped studying. It hurts. But there are also good minded people,” he said.
There is a lack of effective government policy
The minimum age to work at Brasiç is 16 years, except for one apprentice, from the age of 14. Minister from the Superior Labor Court (TST), Evandro Valdao, and coordinator of the program to fight child labor and promote education in labor justice, emphasized the duty of the state, family and society enshrined in the constitution to ensure retirement. , Safety and education for children, adolescents and young people.
“Our commitment to our children is also our commitment to the future. Early child labor deprives infants and children of the right to be happy, to dream, and it is cruel. And those who do not dream have no desire, which leads to despair. And unhappiness. In addition, child labor.” , Children work many hours a day, and their full, in an informal service “, he said.
According to Valadão, child labor creates a threefold exclusion: from childhood, from learning, and from the economic and social future.
“It perpetuates poverty and reproduces social ills. And the epidemic has exacerbated this pattern of economic inequality in the country,” he added.
In the minister’s assessment, there is a lack of effective public policy to address the problems plaguing Brazil. For example, a study by Valor Economics noted that in 2020 and 2021, the Zaire Bolsonaro government (PL) nullified the transfer of resources to implement the strategic measures of the Child Labor Eradication Program (PETI).
“The state must promote consistent public policies that provide quality primary education to the most vulnerable populations, as well as measures that guarantee these families the conditions to keep their children in school,” Valadão highlighted.
Human rights violations
Anna Maria Villa Real, National Coordinator for the Fight against the Exploitation of Child and Adolescent Labor in the Public Ministry of Labor (MPT), emphasized the need to address economic vulnerabilities so that children have a dignified childhood and can do so. To improve. In its assessment, child labor is a serious violation of human rights and any form of child labor should not be normalized.
“These families need to be socially protected. We cannot give R $ 100 in social programs to a person who has one child and the same amount to someone who has seven children. “Child labor causes irreversible damage, both mentally and physically. Even teenagers die in work accidents,” he argued.
The prosecutor emphasized that it was important for children and adolescents to study, play, interact with other people, and have access to education and culture. And that, in addition, all childhood must be equal, in accordance with the Federal Constitution and the ECA.
“For black children, for poor children, society sees the path of child labor in such a way that it has only two options: either go to work or steal. Working at a young age, they should be in school, with integral education, quality education, because what leads them to child labor is social vulnerability, and they face violence on the streets, drug trafficking, sexual harassment, and much more. We all have equal children. We have to fight for it, “he said.
* Fictional names to protect the identities of underage respondents.