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Saying “No!” to child exploitation

Some of the 150 youth selected for the training program pose for a picture inside one of the new stadiums for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Every 4 years, the FIFA World Cup captivates audiences across the globe. This year, all eyes are on Brazil, which is hosting this year’s World Cup.

While the World Cup is an exciting month-long event, the influx of tourists from around the world can also expose vulnerable children to violence and exploitation. The facts speak for themselves:

    • It’s estimated that there are 500,000 children in the sex industry in Brazil
    • Sexual violence is the second most reported crime against children in Brazil, with most victims aged 10 to 14.
    • Child sexual exploitation during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa increased by 63% and by 87% at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
The arrival of tourists brings the good and the bad

“Unfortunately, tourism is often linked with the sexual exploitation of children,” said Plan’s National Director in Brazil, Annette Trompeter. “Plan’s goal is to prevent this exploitation by raising awareness about the issue and opening doors to vulnerable children to develop their potential.”

Plan has been promoting the rights of children in some of areas of Brazil most affected by child exploitation, like Recife, one of the host cities for the FIFA World Cup. Plan also operates a number of programs aimed at preventing vulnerable children from falling into bad situations.

Keeping youth off the streets and employed

Sara (right) is a member of Plan’s Girls’ Football Project in Brazil. Today, she feels comfortable tackling serious issues in her community.

One project, Goals for a Better Life, has helped 150 underprivileged youth participate in job training programs taught by professionals. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these youth, many of whom come from violent homes or lack access to quality education.

The project helped the group of youth learn to work inside a dynamic stadium during soccer matches, and big events like concerts, by teaching them communication skills and customer service skills. After the training, all 150 youth were hired full-time, working at Sunday soccer matches in preparation for their roles at the 2014 World Cup.

A project just for girls in Brazil

Another program preventing sexual violence in Brazil is Plan’s Girls’ Football project. The project is designed to keep girls off the streets and educate them on their rights as young women.

While they learn to play Brazil’s national sport, the girls gain a wealth of other skills, like team work, self-esteem, and what it’s like to be a leader. Workshops help girls tackle issues like gender inequality and sexual and reproductive health. This training gives girls the confidence to build friendships and gain life skills they’ll need to succeed.

A leg up on the competition

Both projects have given youth the confidence and skills they need to prepare them for the future. With the success of the programs, Plan is looking to train hundreds more youth to ensure vulnerable adolescents are off the streets and free from exploitation and violence.