Dimensions and impacts

Major sports events and childhood protection

For their dimensions and potential impacts, major sports events, such as the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, take priority in governmental policies. The structure that is being established counts on significant allocation of funds.

R$33 billion were invested in infrastructure

It will add R$183 billion to Brazil’s GDP

700,000 permanent and temporary jobs will be created

It will attract 3.7 million Brazilian and foreign tourists

600,000 people will come from abroad

Tourism only will generate R$9.4 billion.

Source: FIFA World Cup Portal and Ministry of Sports

The risks of major events for children and adolescents

Major sports events, such as FIFA World Cup or the Olympics, increase the risks of children and adolescents’ rights violation. This information was confirmed by a research carried out by Brunel University, London, called “Child and adolescents exploitaion and the FIFA World Cup: a review of risks and protective interventions”.

The research points out a number of factors that determines the increase of risks:

  • Accelerated construction timetables with large numbers of men separated from their families and turning to commercial – and underage – sex.
  • Negative impacts on children arising from labour migration and high but temporary demands for commercial labour e.g. illegal passports and age verification documents enabling use of underage labour, involvement in street selling.
  • Media messaging that downplays bad news (child abuses).
  • Detainment and unlawful stop and search, including of children.
  • Displacement of children from their established homes to temporary and/or unfamiliar locations.
  • Child coercion into illegal activities such as drug dealing, theft, sectarian or ethnic violence, especially if they stay in the area after the event.
  • Questionable celebrity, media and/or tourist activities dressed up as ‘sport for development’ yet distracting agencies from their normal child risk screening procedures.
  • Migrant labour not having access to childcare, education, health services.
  • Extension of school holidays without supervision or without holiday programmes for children.
  • Elevated levels of sexual and physical abuse due to increased partying activity.
  • Negative effects on children’s mental and physical health caused by contagious diseases if they are abused and/or forced to consume drugs.

The risks of big constructions

To prepare Brazil for the FIFA World Cup, R$33 billion were invested in infrastructure. Big constructions were built to host games and receive tourists.

However, the big constructions’ context is also immersed in vulnerabilities that affect the workers. It lacks leisure, health-care, education, and socialization structures. It is a deficiency found in the cities where such constructions are being built. The cities have not enough structure to receive the large number of workers, almost all of them males, who find themselves with no options for their free time.

A research carried out by Childhood Brasil in 2009, named “The sexuality of the Civil Construction Worker – Sex Trade and Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents”, points out important and worrying data on the issue of big constructions:

  • For the relevant part of these male workers, sexual exploitation of children and adolescents doesn’t exist. They are not seen as victims, not even as children or adolescents.
  • In this context, to address this issue means to change those men’s perception, to make sexual exploitation of children and adolescents to be seen by them as it really is, a serious and unacceptable problem that must be permanently and relentlessly attacked. And they can’t get involved in it.

The study shows that common men are the perpetrators of such brutal violence against children and adolescents. Near 85% of the surveyed declare they have seen children or adolescents involved in sexual trade near big constructions.

66.9% of the surveyed workers declare that their colleagues had relations with children or adolescents under 18 years old.
43.3% declared that “girls under 18 years of age can prostitute themselves, if they want to.”
25.4% declare they have already been involved in sex trade with children or adolescents.


The scenario on the highways

Great part of the scheduled logistic move for the major events, before and during such events, shall use highways.

The Brazilian road network presents two important risk factors:

Sexual exploitation: according to Federal Highway Patrol’s mapping, in Brazilian highways, there are 1,776 localities favorable for the practice of sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.

Human trafficking: according to the research on Women, Children, and Adolescents Trafficking (PESTRAF, 2002), in Brazil, there are 241 national and international trafficking routes of children and adolescents for sexual exploitation.

Truck drivers

The truck driver is an important actor in this process, mainly for the potential of acting as an agent for protection of children and adolescents’ rights. The truck driver is always on the road and is aware of the problem. The relevant part of those professionals is already aware and engaged in the cause, as shown by the researches carried out by Childhood Brasil in 2005 and 2010.

  • In 2005, 82.1% of the truck drivers confessed they had sex with children and adolescents in exchange for money or other advantages.
  • In 2010, this number lowered to 63.2%.

This is not a small number, on the contrary, but it shows a change in the way the truck driver relates to children. It also shows how important it is to raise awareness and engage the truck driver to the cause.

These researches also show that the truck drivers became more aware of sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.

  • In 2005, 20.8% said they knew it was wrong.
  • In 2010, 37% said they knew it was wrong.

The number of drivers that have used the hotline number (Disque-Denúncia) has also raised: 4.9% in 2010, against 1.3% in 2005.

In the previous survey, 12.1% only had experienced any sort of contact with campaigns against sexual exploitation of children and adolescents. In 2010, this percentage has nearly tripled, rising to 30.4%.

The school and childhood protection

Children out of school are more vulnerable and likely to have their rights violated. During the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, on game days, many schools will be closed and no activity is being organized for the students’ free time, it is a fact that those children and adolescents will be more vulnerable. So, there is the need of being vigilant during the weeks the games will take place and the host cities will receive a large group of tourists.

A study carried out by Childhood Brasil, called “Risk Indicators, Vulnerability and Protection of the “victims of sexual exploitation do children and adolescents” shows how important and effective the school’s role is in the network of support and protection of children and adolescents. The data point out that the school greatly contributes to raise self-esteem, improve the quality of life, and keep away sexual exploitation and other forms of violence.

The experience of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa

According to the research “The exploitation of children and adolescents and the FIFA World Cup: an analysis of risks and interventions for protection”, school vacations, during South Africa’s FIFA World Cup, increased the risks of violence against children and adolescents. School closure left the children unsupervised, vulnerable to violence and sexual exploitation.

As in Brazil most schools in the host cities will also close, it is paramount to be prepared to prevent those children and adolescents from being victims of different sorts of rights violations.

Lessons learned with the Confederations Cup

The Confederations Cup, held in Brazil in 2013, served as a rehearsal for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Through this test we have learned more on how to protect children and adolescents during major events.

Technical surveillances were kept in areas close to the games. While examining such surveillances, the Ministry for Human Rights verified the increase of children and adolescents’ rights violations, mainly related to child labor. Cases of sexual exploitation and missing children were also registered.

Source: Guide to strengthen child protection local committees in the host cities of 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Main strategies adopted during the event:

The organization of a task force formed by public administrators; members of child guardianship councils; law advisors; professionals from social welfare, health care, education, sport, leisure, culture, tourism; specialized police units; prosecutors; public defenders; judges; representations of the organized civil society.
Technical surveillances to assist cases of rights violation.
A mobile team to supervise and prevent violence.
Spaces for social activities with children and adolescents found in situation of vulnerability near the places where games or festive events are taking place.


Challenges to overcome

The Confederations Cup’s experience presented a number of challenges to overcome. They were identified by the Ministry for Human Rights, in the “Guide to strengthen child protection local committees in the host cities of 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil”.

There are 11 point that must be improved, to ensure the protection of children and adolescents during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil:

coordination between States and Cities
understanding of the System to Safeguard Rights
internal coordination of the protection network, with better understanding of roles and responsibilities
definition of the role of the Child Guardianship Council
participation of the civil society, increasing their awareness on violence against children and adolescents;
promotion of child protection local committees work
integration and the participation of the Justice and Safety Systems’ bodies
access to adequate local assistance network for children and adolescents who are victims of violence
protection of and approach to the street population
efficiency of the work with street vendors so to stop child labor
consolidation of records and treatment of children and adolescents’ rights violation cases