Young Offenders in Brazil: Analyzing the Interplay of Family, Peer Group and Social Context As Risk Factors for Youth Involvement with Crime and Violence

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Melissa DE MATTOS PIMENTA, Sociology, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Liana DE PAULA, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil
Recently, data on criminality and violence produced in Brazil have indicated an ever-growing number of death rates by homicide among young people, especially those between 15 and 24 years old, male, and afro descendants. The increase in criminality rates, mainly related to drug and firearms trafficking, have led to a public debate over the legal age for criminal responsibility. Support for the reduction from 18 to 16 years old has grown in all social sectors. However, researchers and experts from social sciences, education and public policy sectors have come forward against such measures, arguing for a better understanding of the involvement of Brazilian young black men with lethal violence, both as victims and as perpetrators. Factors commonly related to explain victimization, such as social and economic inequalities, associated with race and gender, usually indicate a higher probability of young black men from impoverished backgrounds of being victims of homicide, police harassment and participation in gangs and drug trafficking, but are not enough to understand the complex social dynamics that lead young people to deviant trajectories. Based on recent qualitative data collected among youngsters who live in violent neighborhoods, we aim to analyze the interplay of family, peer group and social context influence in the involvement of youth with crime and violence, from the perspective of risk, masculinity representations and sociability practices. We hope to contribute to a further understanding of key factors that either enable, either restrict social actors’ decision making and choices regarding engagement in illicit and violent acts.