Violence and child rights: an educational-scientific cooperation between Norway and Brazil

The University of Tromsø (Norway) and the Universidade Federal de São Paulo (Brazil) have established a long-term educational-scientific cooperation including a collaborative longitudinal project (VIOLENCE AND CHILD RIGHTS IN BRAZIL: CAN THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE BE BROKEN?), and the promotion of scientific exchange among researchers from the two countries.

The project – which is an initiative of UNIFESP and University of Tromsø, in collaboration with researchers from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and Columbia University (USA) – aims at evaluating the impact of exposure to violence in their homes, school and/or communities on children’s and adolescents’ mental health. The study will evaluate a representative sample of 1440 children and adolescents living in urban and rural areas in Itaboraí (RJ).

The Dean of the Federal University of Sao Paulo – UNIFESP, Walter Manna Albertoni stated that “This project is in line with UNIFESP’s research profile, which takes place within the community through social and academic partnerships”.

The Brazilian research team will benefit from the expertise of Norwegian investigators on school violence, service use and the long tradition of using Rights based approach.

Isabel Bordin head of the Section of Social Psychiatry, UNIFESP, who is the project coordinator, explained that “this partnership will produce original high-quality data about how local resources can counteract the impact of exposure to the violence experienced by Brazilian youth. It’s also a first step to increase the academic exchange with Norway”.

According to Professor John Rønning, “this experience will highlight in which ways the mental health of children and adolescents in Brazil is related to a reality of poverty, violence, difficulties, distress and deprivation”.

This project is the first work in Latin America that will be funded by the Research Council of Norway and that involves the University of Tromsø, which has been doing studies in Africa, England and Finland. 

How the research will be done:

The study aims at estimating the prevalence of exposure to violence (domestic, school and community) and at examining the impact of this exposure to violence in the lives of Brazilian children and adolescents. It will also ascertain what types of care children exposed to violence are receiving from existing agencies. The study will be carried out in Itaboraí, Rio de Janeiro, with the support of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and will assess a population-based sample of 1440 children and adolescents from families who live in low, middle, and high-violence areas.

The interviews, which will be done separately with mothers and adolescents, will collect information on exposure to different types of violence, emotional and behavioral problems, school performance, life style, and several other potential risk and protection factors related to the exposure to violence and to the development of mental health problems. The families that will be included in the study will be randomly selected, and the interviews will be done in their homes by trained interviewers.

The results may be used to guide the development of intervention and prevention models to tackle violence, in order to reduce its consequences to the lives of children and adolescents.


Ansvarlig for prosjektet: Helle Jørgensen

The first poster presentation from the project "Violence and child rights in Brazil?" is attached above. It was presented at the European Congress in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry in Helsinki in June 2011.

The university journal at the Federal University of Sao Paulo made an article from Professor John Rønning's visit in April. The article (in Portugese), together with an English translation is attached above.