The Dilemmas of Politically Sensitive Medicalized Approaches to Reducing Youth Violence in Pelotas, Brazil

  • Dominique P. Béhague
Part of the Studies of the Americas book series (STAM)


Despite over two decades of a democratic government, contemporary Brazil is well known for its extremely high levels of everyday urban violence (Caldeira 2000; Costa 1998; Scheper-Hughes 1996; Zaluar 1995). Numerous social and economic indicators associated with violence—such as unemployment, social and economic inequality, and lack of housing—have clearly not improved in Brazil since the transition from military dictatorship to democracy in 1984, and many have in fact worsened (Alvarez 1997; Bacchus 1990; Caldeira 2000; Pinheiro 1997). The demographic group that is considered to be most widely engaged in violence, whether as victims or perpetrators, is youth, defined as the segment of the population between the ages of 15 to 24 (Cardia et al. 2003). Brazil is by no means unique in this regard. Youth violence is a growing international concern, with reports of high levels emerging from countries including the United States, large regions of Africa, and parts of Southeast Asia. Indeed, since the middle of the 1990s, many international organizations and national governments have made youth violence a top policy priority, developing programs geared specifically to tackling the issue (Sawyer and Bowes 1999; WHO 2000, 2003).


Young People Antisocial Behavior Conduct Disorder Youth Violence Prenatal Alcohol Exposure 
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© Gareth A. Jones and Dennis Rodgers 2009

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  • Dominique P. Béhague

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