Lessons Learned from Brazilian Public Policies for Education

By: Miranda Carnes, BSFS Scholar, SFS ’19

On Thursday, February 14th, visiting researcher Eduardo Chaves da Silva presented his findings regarding early childhood policies in Brazil and the U.S. In conducting his research, Chaves da Silva aimed to explain the institutional change that occurred in Brazil between 1990 and 2016 with regard to the legal rights afforded to children and adolescents. He found that children aged zero to six gained prominence in the agenda, while ages seven to eighteen did not. After offering several reasons for this change, Chaves da Silva went on to compare early childhood policies between Brazil and the United States. In doing so, he analyzed aspects such as homelessness, juvenile justice, education, and gun violence. Ultimately, he felt that both countries could solve more problems regarding the care of their children if they were more sensitive to children’s voices and opinions.

One of Chaves da Silva’s most shocking findings was the severe impact of gun violence on children in the U.S. During his presentation, he stated that, in the U.S., “a black child or teen was killed with a gun every seven hours and twenty-five minutes,” which is four times higher than the rate among white children. With President Bolsonaro’s radical ideology and the institution of new gun laws in Brazil, Brazil may be on track to adopt similar statistics. On the one-year anniversary of the devastating Parkland shooting, I found these prospects to be very concerning for the future of both countries. Additionally, I believe that the United States can learn a lot from Brazil regarding juvenile justice. In the U.S., children are immediately placed in prisons for any crimes committed. Brazil, however, recognizes the underlying causes behind these crimes and works to support children rather than placing them in jail. With the prevalence of mass incarceration in the U.S. and its known impact on children, I believe that the United States could learn from Brazil and work to adopt better long-term solutions for juvenile crime.