Adolescents in conflict with the law who have received non-custodial measures (i.e., were included in alternative, non-incarceration programs), have experienced a suspension of vocational training opportunities and access to other public services as a result of the COVID-19. Learn how they are dealing with the pandemic thanks to donations from UNICEF.
After a talk with Fernando (*), it´s hard to believe he is only 14 years old. With a deep voice, the adolescent speaks in an easy way about difficulties brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Away from classes and cultural activities, he discusses the negative impact this has had on his education. He explains that his mother and aunt lost their incomes that kept the family of five. “We are staying at home, but we don´t have cleaning products and the means to maintain personal hygiene practices”, he regrets.
Fernando (*) is in an alternative non-incarceration program and with judicial service suspended, he is now monitored by Social Assistance Centre (Creas) Ana Vasconcelos, in Recife, northern state of Pernambuco in Brazil. He, other youths and families who receive assistance from the Centre received Hygiene and Cleaning Kits and food items, donated by UNICEF and delivered by the Secretariat of Social Development, Youth, Drugs Police and Human Development of Recife Municipality.
“Everything is essential. It will help a lot because it will give us time to reorganize and get on our feet again, says the adolescent.
“The pandemic affected families´ incomes and also public services for them, such as vocational and professional training and the chance to be selected for participation in Jovem Aprendiz (a federal programme that helps the youth to find a job)”, explains Elvira de Freitas, who works in the Centre where Fernando (*) is monitored. According to her, the neighborhood where he lives experiences a high level of violence and poverty and its main economical activity is local commerce.
Jéssica (*) had plans to get a job and help the family. Pregnant with a second daughter, the 17- year-old is also in an alternative non-incarceration program and is monitored by the Centre. “My family faces many difficulties. At home we have only water and soap, we don´t have other cleaning materials, such as bleach solution and hand sanitizer. It´s hard to maintain healthy hygiene practices, the donation helped a lot”, she says.
To Elvira de Freitas, the bigger impact of the pandemic was that it has made families even more vulnerable. “We talk about prevention and care but sometimes they don´t even have water and soap.” She highlights the importance of donations: “With the hygiene products and cleaning kits, we can assure that everybody has the same level of protection. These adolescents and their families now are on par with other people”, she says.
In addition to hygiene products and cleaning items, UNICEF and local partners provided access to reliable information to adolescents under non-custodial measures. In ten capitals in Brazil, they distributed 7,000 posters with information on the novel coronavirus and protection against violence during the pandemics.
(*) Names were changed to protect the adolescents´ identity.