The number: according to IBGE, the Brazilian statistics bureau, 662 thousand teens between 15 and 19 and 132 thousand 10-14 year old kids are the main (or unique) bread winners for their families. Domestic and street child labor are increasing in the country – the number of children under 14 grew more than ten times in one decade. In the streets, the little workers interviewed by IBGE for the latest Census polish shoes, collect recyclables, “clean” car windshields and sell products, just like Luciana and Moisés. Around 60% of them still live with their families.
Weekly magazine Isto É just published a sad description of this reality. It tells the story of Luciana (13) and Moisés (8) who, carrying their baby brother Peterson, spend 11 hours a day trying to sell chewing gum on the streets of Largo 13, a low income commercial district of São Paulo. Each gum is sold for 0.10 real, a few dollar cents. It’s their only alternative. Both their father and maternal grandmother are in jail and their mother is unemployed (why she is not the one selling gum is a whole other debate). The two elder kids help the family bringing home 450 reais (287 dollars) a month. Luciana is still illiterate and might be expelled from school for no show. Their elder brother, Paulo, died three years ago, at 13, in a traffic accident, when he was returning home from work. “In the beginning I was ashamed of begging, but then it became a habit”, says Luciana to Isto É magazine. “Only, if I see some acquaintance on the street, i run fast to hide”.