CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

This article takes as its starting point the “Menino Bernardo Law,” which prohibits corporal punishment and the cruel and degrading treatment of children and adolescents in Brazil. Firstly, the study shows that the figure of the “child victim of violence,” which emerged in the Brazilian parliamentary debate over the proposed law, was constructed based on a range of prejudices about disadvantaged social classes. Yet, the child whose name was given to the law was from the middle class. Secondly, to better understand the difference between the degree of violence shown in the murder of Bernardo and the practices referred to in the law, known as the “spanking law,” the article returns to some aspects of Bernardo’s story as reported by the media. Finally, the case will be related to the figure of the “child of the Americas,” which serves as a model for different child protection systems in Latin America. Because the maltreatment of children is generally associated with poverty, this study shows that it is difficult for child protection institutions to understand some situations where violence is experienced by middle- and upper-class children as violations of rights.

Fernanda Bittencourt Ribeiro
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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