Policing Children in Street Situations in São Paulo, Brazil
: Relations of Violence and Exclusion in the City

  • Daniel Jupp Kina

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This research explores the complex social and spatial nature of the relationship between police and children in street situations, investigating the ways these connections are shaped by everyday practices within participant’s life contexts. The fieldwork took place in the city centre of São Paulo city, Brazil, where the concentration of children in street situations is at a historic high. The increase of this population coupled with the difficulties local and national authorities face to develop effective social policies has intensified the encounters between the police and children in street situations (Sales 2012; Ribeiro 2008; Drybread 2013).

    Research participants were composed of 3 groups: children in street situations, police officers, and key informants (practitioners). Data collection was based in three main forms of data input: Ethnography, Semi-structured interviews and Interactive Interviews. This was based on a participatory framework with influences from local practice approaches namely “Street Education” (Bedoian and Lescher, 2018:25) and “Pedagogy of the Presence” (Oliveira, 2007:147).

    Data analysis is discussed from participants perspectives, captured through their discourse and everyday practices and It aimed to understand individual’s agency and construction identity process. The discussion of the results revealed that unequal power relations and violence are systematically present in the relationship between children in street situations and police officers. Furthermore, mobility and use of space were identified as two key aspects in street life. Through moving and using spaces children were able to create survival strategies and resist (at times) to police violence. This was also the point of tension between the two groups as it led to territorial disputes. Complementing this, concepts such as Collective/institutional identities, social relations, symbolic spaces and spatial identity, were key categories to understand the relation between individual’s subjectivity, territory, and everyday practices. This was considered the lenses through which the relationship between children in street situations and police officers was analysed.

    The research identified the influence of wider policy and cultural contexts on children in street situation’s street culture and police officers’ institutional culture. This was essential to understand the underlying aspects of police violence against children in street situations, arguing that such violence is the small part of a much wider structural problem that has its roots in social, economic and territorial inequalities.
    Date of Award2020
    Original languageEnglish
    SponsorsEconomic and Social Research Council, UK
    SupervisorLorraine van Blerk (Supervisor), Fiona Smith (Supervisor) & Fernando Lannes Fernandes (Supervisor)


    • Street children
    • Policing
    • Street connected children
    • Homeless children
    • State violence
    • Police violence

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