São Bernardo is a municipality in São Paulo state with a population of over 844,000. It’s the second most populated suburb of São Paulo city and the industrial heartland of São Paulo state.
Life in this suburb of São Paulo has always been challenging. However, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed thousands into living on the streets in São Paulo. The number of people without a home rose by more than 30% in this time. Almost 6,800 different areas of the city had people living in tents and wooden shacks. Children and young people growing up in these conditions are at risk of exploitation and need special support.
Since 1970, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in São Paulo-São Bernardo.
In early 2020, about 40% of children and young people lived below the poverty line. Families with children and adolescents are more likely to be affected by insufficient income.
In the urban sprawl of São Paul, many families end up living in informal settlements, often on the streets or located on land that is prone to floods or landslides.
Children often have no access to education or to health services.
In addition, with high crime rates and a lack of access to support, many children and young people are at risk of exploitation and violence.
Some areas of Brazilian society are marked by violence. All types of violence are underreported, and this is also true for sexual violence. Victims are usually between 10-17 years old, and in 74% of the cases girls are the target. A study revealed that children are most vulnerable in their own homes where they should be the safest.
Brazil is therefore raising awareness on sexual violence against children by observing the National Day Against the Abuse and Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents on 18th May.