In fact in some countries initial progress has been

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related problems it breeds. In fact, in some countries, initial progress has been followed by continuing setbacks. These setbacks are all the more frus- trating and threatening for children because they are occurring at a moment in history when traditional values, family organization, and economic struc- tures are rapidly changing in the developing world. Let’s consider two cases from South America and Africa. Poverty and Street Children in Brazil Many countries in Central and South America have experienced mass urbanization and its many related social problems. The country most well known for the plight of its street children is Brazil. The problems of Brazil’s street children, however, must be placed in context. Deteriorating economic conditions persist; however, recent attempts have been made within the coun- try to recognize and address the problem. Although there have always been wide disparities in the distribution of wealth in Brazil, the country experienced strong economic growth between 1960 and 1980. Annual growth rates of 10% during this period led to profound economic and social changes and to the development of a modern and diversified economic structure. Unfortunately, this period was followed by a severe recession in the 1980s, when the gross national product dropped more than 6%, the average minimum salary Copyright ©2018 by SAGE Publications, Inc. This work may not be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means without express written permission of the publisher. Draft Proof - Do not copy, post, or distribute
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CHAPTER 11: Children, Social Problems, and Society 309 declined 33%, and inflation soared to a level of 50% per month. These changes were accompanied by rapid population growth: from 119 to 144 mil- lion in the 10 years from 1980 to 1990, with approximately 40% of the population under 17 years of age. Furthermore, since the early 1960s Brazil has become highly urbanized. By 1990 the populations of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro exceeded, respectively, 17 million and 11 million, and 14 other cit- ies had more than 1 million inhabitants (Rizzini, Rizzini, Munoz-Vargas, & Galeano, 1994, pp. 56–57). It is not surprising that these factors combined to severely worsen the situation of the poor, most especially children. Most studies of economic growth and the physical quality of life have ignored children or treated them as faceless variables (Y. Bradshaw, 1993). Children live and work on the streets for many reasons. Almost all are poor; some are orphans working to support themselves but also to contribute to the family. International reaction to the deplorable condition of Brazil’s street children has drawn some direct attention to children, but think of what it took to get this attention. Children were being killed—executed— often because of the fact that they were poor! A study cited by Rizzini and colleagues (1994) found that 457 children were murdered on the streets of Rio, São Paulo, and Recife in one 6-month period in 1989.
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