Around 260,000 people live in Santa Maria. It is located in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, to the west of Porto Alegre.
Porto Alegre was one of 50 most violent cities in the world in 2017. The rising murder rate was fueled by increasing poverty rates, soaring crime and drug gangs spreading over the state.
Children and young people growing up here need extra support so that they can grow up safely.
Since 1980, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Santa Maria.
Around 12% of children and young people are living in extreme poverty in Brazil.
Many children who grow up in poverty do not go to school – they often have to drop out of education to contribute to the family income.
It is often difficult for them to stay healthy- there may be a lack of nutritious food, or they may not have access to clear water or other basic services.
A Brazilian study examined how childhood poverty also affects the mental health of children and young people
Children and young people in Brazil are at risk of being sexually exploited in different settings across the country.
Around 500,000 reports of sexual exploitation of children are recorded each year. However, this is not an accurate picture of the extent of exploitation. One study showed that74% of people do not report sexual exploitation when they see it. The Brazilian Ministry of Human Rights launched a free hotline “Dial 100” to encourage people to report cases