Youth Maze

    Youth Maze

    Who is the Brazilian teenager? He/she is passionate and apathetic,
    abstemious and drug-addicted, criminal and compassionate. Their numbers are growing faster
    than any other age bracket. They will soon be Brazil’s movers and shakers.
    By Émerson Luís

    It would be hard to put a label on the 6,000 youngsters from across Brazil who gathered
    in September in Brasília, the nation’s capital, for the I Festival Nacional da Juventude
    (Youth First National Festival). "Unclassifiable" probably would be the only
    fair designation. They are not leftist dreamers, conservative proselytizers, nor Pepsi, X,
    mall or any other kind of generation, but rather, they are all of these. They are a close
    portrait of Brazil today with its clubbers, rappers, skaters, Fidel Castro lovers, hippie
    nostalgics, teetotalers and drugheads, punks, goody-goodies, and eggheads, bums and
    career-minded boys and girls, philosophers and the stark crazy.

    One in every five Brazilians is between the ages of 15 and 24. There are 32 million of
    them out of a total of 161 million inhabitants, according to the latest figures by the
    IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística—Brazilian Institute for
    Geography and Statistics). While the population as a whole grew 7% between 1991 and 1996
    the number of adolescents went up 11%. According to projections, this young population
    will continue growing for two more years, and will be 28 million by the year 2020.

    Although inspired by idols as diverse as black slave hero Zumbi dos Palmares, MST
    leader José Rainha Júnior or late composer Chico Science, politics doesn’t seem to
    interest them. The relaxed tone of the conference was reinforced by the daily generous
    free distribution of condoms by the Health Secretariat of Brasília and a group called
    Atitude (Attitude).

    "The adults have to find out how we are and what we think. Young people need
    information," said 18-year-old Josyane Nascimento to Correio Brasiliense, the
    most traditional and most read daily in Brasília. This rap lover came from Rio with a
    group of 35 other rap-loving Cariocas (Rio natives). "This event is going to
    change my life," said André Luiz Lemos, 19. "I’ve already learned about
    politics, punk, socialism and geography."

    They didn’t come only for the song and dance even though the guitar parties and balls
    were common during the event. The program of conferences started in the morning and went
    through all day. While many were missing school by being there, they expected to have
    their absences justified after presenting proof of participation in different conferences.
    Among the themes discussed: globalization of the culture, violence, media and youth, the
    job market, and the history of the Brazilian student movement.

    Discipline was severe and no alcohol was allowed on the camping grounds. Order and
    security were guaranteed by the military police and a 30-strong private security force.
    According to Fórum da Juventude XXI (Youth Forum 21), the organizers of the conference,
    the main objective of the Brasília event was to prepare a report with proposals by the
    participants to be presented to state and local governments.

    Among the organized political groups there were representatives from UNE (União
    Nacional dos Estudantes—Students National Union), UJS (União da Juventude
    Socialista—Socialist Youth Union), JPT (Juventude do Partido dos
    Trabalhadores—Workers’ Party Youth), CDRC (Comitê de Defesa da Revolução
    Cubana—Committee for the Defense of the Cuban Revolution), and UJC (União da
    Juventude Comunista—Communist Youth Union) linked to the PCB (Partido Comunista
    Brasileiro—Brazilian Communist Party) whose members sported a Che Guevara-styled
    beret. The UJC members were actively trying to get new members for their cause while
    reading from books by Lenin and Trotsky.

    The organizers placed 800 seats in the main auditorium. They soon discovered that this
    was way too many for the small groups that showed up for the conferences and debates
    there. The themes that drew more attention and public were Brazilian culture and
    education. There were always too many events going on on the same time including 15
    different workshops on themes as diverse as percussion, circus, and community radio.

    Nights were reserved for pleasure and the youngsters had fun listening to all kinds of
    music, including samba and rock. Brasília’s Secretariat of Tourism offered five buses
    with guides, so the youngsters could visit some city’s buildings and monuments like the
    National Congress and the Justice Palace. The buses however were rarely used.

    Violence and Accidents

    The conference participants learned that murder was the cause of 41.8% of deaths among
    Brazilian youngsters between the ages of 15 and 24. The information was given by professor
    Júlio Jacobo Waiselfisz from UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science and Culture
    Organization) during a debate on violence in Brazilian society. Waiselfisz, who is
    coordinating a study about violence among youngsters in four state capitals, used data
    from 1996, the most recent information available.

    The UNESCO official criticized the way the media treat the younger crowd.
    "Youngsters are treated as if they were suspects of violence, when in reality they
    are its main victim. Governments stage big campaigns against AIDS, which represents 3% of
    the total of deaths among youngsters, but there is no comprehensive policy against
    violence," Waiselfisz declared. He also criticized the lack of a national strategy to
    deal with the situation.

    According to him, contrary to the widespread perception, violence is not confined to
    poverty pockets, but it is present in all social classes. Among the causes uncovered by
    the study for the growing problem: individualism and competitiveness.

    Last July Brazil was shocked by the death of João Francisco Jobim, 18, the older son
    of late composer Tom Jobim and Ana Jobim, in a car accident in downtown Rio. His mother
    had just given him as a gift an imported Volkswagen Passat for finishing high school. He
    was coming back from a night of dance and beer with some friends when he lost control and
    the vehicle tumbled several times before crashing into a tree. According to friends the
    young Jobim was a very careful driver. The police report, however, concluded that his car
    was going 140 km/h (87 mph) when the accident occurred.

    There were roughly 7,200 adolescent deaths due to car accidents in 1995, the latest
    year for which there is data about the matter. This was a jump of 75% over the figures of
    15 years earlier. Thirty thousand youngsters had a violent death in 1995 when there was a
    total of 42,000 deaths among those between 15 and 24. While 24% of them were victims of a
    car accident, another 45% were murdered. Mortality rates for this age bracket are
    approximately 50% greater in Brazil than in the United States.

    Voting Apathy

    The first generation who grew up in a society where the free vote was allowed after the
    1964-1985 military dictatorship doesn’t seem drawn to politics or convinced of the
    importance of their own vote. The 1988 Constitution kept the compulsory vote for people
    over 18 and extended the voluntary vote to everyone between the ages of 16 and 18. There
    has been little interest in the privilege though, and there were fewer applicants than
    ever in this age bracket this year, despite the fact that the country had national
    elections in October for governor, congress and President.

    In Rio, for example, a mere 18,539 16-year-old adolescents applied for their título
    de eleitor (voter card), a number three times lower than in past polls. This
    represents 0.09% of the total Rio’s electorate. Nationwide there was a slightly larger
    interest with 1,299,437 applications or 0.28% of the country’s voting population.

    In an interview with Rio’s daily O Globo, political scientist Nélson Carvalho
    remarked that in contrast with Europe, where teens have oscillated between alienation and
    adherence to neofascist groups, Brazilian youngsters show interest for politics as long as
    it is not linked to parties.

    "The political theme is not that appealing to youngsters anymore," Carvalho
    said. "They get organized for other tasks like promoting a demonstration for students
    rights. They don’t have the same disposition though to be active in a party."

    Sixteen-year-old Filipe Cândido explained why he passed on the chance to vote that
    last time around: "If I vote for a politician who does something stupid, I will also
    be responsible. I intend to put off this responsibility for as long as I can."

    Clubber Mentality

    Inspired by British youngsters there is a growing number of tattooed-and-pierced
    clubbers from Rio who frequent Ecstasy-laced raves—rowdy parties with a techno-sound
    background—and are adept at the ritual known as chill-out, a party after the party,
    that can last hours or days. Among the drugs consumed during this period there are
    marijuana and speed (encapsulated cocaine-based powder).

    Rio’s daily O Dia interviewed a 18-year-old student named Bernardo T., who
    talked about his experience as a drug-using clubber: "I’ve participated in a chill
    out in an Ipanema (upper-class neighborhood in south Rio) penthouse for four whole days.
    We smoked pot, took Ecstasy and snorted cocaine and speed to the sound of techno. We are
    not mere drug addicts or little addicted playboys. We have another world and we use drugs
    only for fun. Only a real clubber can understand what we feel during these drug

    In raves in Rio, São Paulo and other large cities, the public can generally be divided
    into two broad groups: the mostly well-behaved and conventionally dressed "pats"
    (for little Patricia) and "boys" on one side and the hardcore clubbers on the

    Pats and boys just add a few out-of-the-ordinary items to their wardrobe including
    iron-beaded chains and colorful snow eye glasses. Shiny make-up is de rigueur for
    the girls. Hardcore clubbers on the other hand are more prone to shock the older crowd
    with their tattoos, navel and tongue piercings, all kinds of accessories, and psychedelic

    To the surprise of many parents, a rave can be much less wild than their own youth rock
    parties. While dancing, the participants seem to fall into a trance in which there is no
    talking, no touching, and no romancing. Two of the favorite places for rave are the
    beaches of Ipanema and Barra da Tijuca in Rio, which are filled with hundreds of
    youngsters who dance non-stop from sundown to sunup.

    While confined to a ghetto until mid-1997, the clubber culture has gone mainstream in
    Brazil lately. Bands like Massive Attack and Prodigy can be heard now at the most popular
    dance clubs. Piercing has become more and more widespread and the same is true for clubber
    synthetic clothes and items that can be found in large chain stores like C&A, but are
    also sold by street vendors.

    Pecado Capital (Sin Capital), Globo Network’s new 6-PM novela (soap
    opera), has a group of clubbers among its characters. The soap, which premiered in
    October, is a remake of a highly-successful story that first aired in the ’70s. Rewritten
    by Glória Perez the new version is introducing the clubbers group in place of the
    original motoscooters gang. The Globo team visited rave parties and talked to clubbers to
    understand their style and philosophy.

    This popularization of the clubber movement is giving pause to some diehard clubbers,
    some of whom have abandoned the night in protest. Rio’s daily O Globo cites Paulo
    Roberto de Oliveira, someone who considers himself a real and original clubber: "For
    more than a year I have not gone out to dance. Today I prefer staying at home with my
    imported records and magazines. There are 200 fake clubbers for every legitimate one. This
    is their moment."

    Sex Practice
    and Education

    While the media pours out a never-ending flow of sexual stimulation, sexual education
    is still very basic. Lack of sexual information does not seem to be a major problem
    though. According to São Paulo state’s Health Secetariat, 96% of the state’s teenagers
    said that they know of ways to avoid pregnancy, even though many of them had not used any
    kind of contraceptive on their last sexual encounter.

    The main papers in Brazil have columns or sometimes entire sections dedicated
    exclusively to teens. There are at least 32 publications catering to the youth and new
    ones are testing the waters all the time. They have names like Atrevida (Daring)
    and Capricho (Whim) and sex is an ever-present theme in their pages.

    When asked by CPM—a polling organization specialized in youngsters—to name
    their favorite music group, kids from 9 to 18 from seven Brazilian capital cities chose É
    o Tchan, a band better known for the prominent derrière of its dancers and the double
    entendre of its lyrics. They have popularized across the country such hits as dança da
    bundinha (little butt dance) and dança da garrafa (bottle dance), both simulating
    sexual intercourse.

    When the same CPM asked the youngsters who were the Brazilians they most admired, the
    kids talked about the late Betinho—Brazil’s mother Theresa —and the athlete of
    the century, Pelé, but they were low in the list that was lead by Xuxa, a TV hostess who
    has always used he sex appeal and scanty clothes to build an audience of kids and their
    fathers. Carla Perez, whose main claim to fame was the ability to shake her buttocks
    during a É o Tchan presentation, came in fourth place before Pelé and Betinho. She left
    that band recently to star on her own TV program on SBT, the second largest TV network.

    For the president of Flapia (Federação Latino-Americana de Infância—Latin
    American Federation of Childhood) the erotization of children is out of control in Brazil.
    "All these dances are an invitation to erotization," she denounces. We are
    diseducating the youth, skipping stages, causing difficulty in the learning process."

    In Brasília roughly 50% of the youngsters have their first sexual relation before they
    are 18, and among those 75% were less than 16 when they lost their virginity, while 11,9%
    were less than 12. For most of them (59,4%) the first sexual encounter happened between
    the ages of 13 and 15.

    Almost half of these kids do not wear condoms. Smoking is not considered cool by this
    group. Only 10% do it, but 19.6% admit using or having used drugs. These were findings
    from a 1998 study by Codeplan (Companhia de Desenvolvimento do Planalto—Highland
    Development Company) with high school students (88% of them between the ages of 14 and 18)
    from the Federal District private and public institutions.

    The study also revealed that a more liberal posture in society did not translate into
    candid talk about sex between children and parents. More than 65% of these youngsters
    revealed that they do not feel at ease discussing sex at home. A mere 35% said they talk
    to a parent about the subject.

    More sexual freedom also did not eliminate some old expectations about women’s roles.
    Only 15.2% see as irrelevant if a woman is not virgin at marriage. For 29.3% of the
    youngsters, virginity is very important while 52% agree that this requirement has lost a
    lot of its bite. On the other hand, just 15.3% of the students see virginity for men
    before marriage as something important. And marriage is not a moribund institution. For
    66% of the youngsters polled by Codeplan, marriage is important and necessary.

    In Porto Alegre (capital of Rio Grande do Sul state) a group of doctors of Hospital das
    Clínicas (General Hospital) led by Dr. Alberto Scofano Mainieri were surprised by the
    results of a study done in 1997 with 8,356 local youngsters between the ages of 12 and 18.
    They found out, for example, that 11% of the boys interviewed had started having sex at
    age 11 or earlier, representing a four-fold increase over numbers from five years ago.
    There was also a jump of more than 300% in the number of girls beginning their sexual
    lives before they were 14. While three years ago they represented 1.94%, this percentage
    has increased to 7.1% today.

    Curiously, for the most part the girls were the ones to take the initiative of starting
    the first sexual relation. For many, the sooner the better to get rid of their virginity,
    which is seen more as a hindrance than an asset.

    Lack of information on sexual matters can be downright scary. Talking to Correio
    Brasiliense, psychologist Oswaldo Rodrigues Júnior, director of Instituto Paulista de
    Sexualidade (São Paulo Institute of Sexuality), described a visit to his office by a
    young couple. "They were college students and they had been married for a year. They
    wanted to know which was the hole to go into. Their biggest difficulty is to understand
    how do you arrive at a wholly integrated sexual relation. The main concern of the girls is
    still the fear of pain and bleeding."


    While prostitutes have always had an educational role in the sex life of Brazilian
    young men, it being common that the father himself would look for a prostitute for his
    son’s first sexual experience, today they have acquired a new status among teens in the
    big cities. They have been often used even by those kids whose girlfriends have frequent
    sex with them, for variety, for their perceived ability to give more pleasure and
    naturally for the lack of commitment in these brief encounters.

    Daily Folha de São Paulo recently told the story of a 17-year-old that they
    identified only by the initials, L.C.S.J.. At least once a month LC finds a prostitute at
    rua Augusta or at Boca do Lixo (Trash Mouth), two places of low and moderate-priced
    prostitution close to downtown. "Today all the gang does that," he told the Folha
    reporter. "I started just for the kick of if, but I ended up liking it. I think
    this gets you addicted. What happens is that hookers have more experience and know more
    how to excite us."

    Rosely Sayão, a sexologist who writes a column answering teens questions at Folhateen,
    the Folha weekly teen section, has her explanation for the phenomenon: "They think
    that their girlfriends are immature." She sees in this new trend another way of
    treating women as a product. "It’s just another item on the shelf to be bought."

    According to a working girl interviewed by the paper, the boys expect too much of them
    and some have the naïve notion they will be able to get a free ride: "They think we
    do miracles and they stay almost still expecting a truckload of things." She
    describes her younger clients as very curious, asking questions about their daily routine
    and about what other johns ask them to do. Rarely does a young client ask to have sex
    without a condom, she said, something guys over 45 are more prone to do.

    For a one-hour session with a prostitute the youngster has to pay around $80, even
    though the price falls to $50 after 3 AM. Hotel prices are extra and can go from $10 to
    $30. Sao Paulo has nightclubs where boys from the upper class can meet prostitutes as if
    they were ordinary girls just looking for some fun. One of these famous nightclubs is Love
    Story, which on Friday and Saturday nights becomes a techno-frenzied bacchanalia.

    Another girl of the night presented as Erika, 19, revealed that her younger clients
    usually come in trios and love to make a festa (party), i.e., to swap girls among
    them. Says Erika: "Two friends and I usually take care of them. It’s very boring
    dealing with these boys however and they give you too much trouble. They act as if they
    are playing a prank in school. Sometimes, when they drink too much, they become

    Sex and Diseases

    Most parents still avoid sexual subjects. In school there is no lack of information on
    AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as on how to wear a condom. What’s
    missing according to experts is the total sexual dimension. All the information has not
    been able to deter the advance of AIDS among the young generation. Today the main victims
    of the disease between the ages of 15 and 20 are not gay men and drug addicts anymore, but

    This new trend has been noticed in family planning clinics and institutions that care
    for those infected by the HIV virus, like the Universidade de São Paulo (USP) Casa da
    Aids (AIDS House). "Today we get more women and they are getting younger by the
    day," said Casa da Aids supervisor, Olavo Munhoz Leite. "The youngsters know all
    the risks, but they think that these things will never happen to them," says
    Albertina Duarte Takeuti, a World Health Organization researcher and coordinator for the
    Adolescent Program in São Paulo. "The truth is that AIDS did not change the sex life
    of teens."

    The problem is not unique to Brazil. According to the United Nations at least 1/3 of
    those infected with AIDS worldwide are between the ages of 10 and 24. Since 1982 when a
    Brazilian adolescent for the first time was found out to have AIDS, 17,000 youngsters have
    been contaminated by the HIV virus.

    As for the choice of first sexual partner, the boys prefer a friend while the girls
    would rather do it with their boyfriend. Surprisingly, the experience was considered good
    by 74,8% of the interviewees and 72.6% used some kind of contraceptive, with the condom
    being the most popular choice (61.6% of the youngsters preferred it).

    Increasing Pregnancy

    The number of pregnancies has fallen nationally across all age groups in recent years,
    but this does not apply to youngsters between the ages of 15 and 19, according to
    Codeplan. Many kids in this age group don’t use any birth control. According to the World
    Health Organization (WHO), there were 1 million births last year in Brazil by mothers who
    were 15 to 19 years old. At least half of these young moms didn’t want to have a child
    just yet. Adolescent mothers are still 10 times more common among the poorer population
    than the richer one, but the problem has become more and more prevalent in every social

    An alarming 26.5% of the 2,718,265 deliveries performed throughout the country in 1997
    by the SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde—Universal Health System) occurred among girls
    between the ages of 10 and 19. While the SUS is used mostly by those without health
    insurance, the system is responsible for 80% of all deliveries in Brazil. By comparison,
    this rate is 2% in Switzerland, 7% in England, and 14% in the US. The majority of these
    births occurred in the poorer states from the North, the Northeast and the Midwest.

    The less schooling a girl has the greater the chances she will get pregnant at an
    earlier age. 54% of all illiterate girls became pregnant while this number fell to 29%
    among those with at least three years of school and to 4% when they have gone to school
    more than nine years.

    Traditional O Estado de S. Paulo has concluded in a recent article that the main
    problem in Paraisópolis—a 60,000-people-strong shantytown in Morumbi, an upper-class
    São Paulo neighborhood—is not violence, but the explosive growth of pregnant teens,
    who are becoming mothers earlier and earlier. "Before, there were many 16 and
    17-year-old girls with a big belly. But in recent years we see more and more pregnant
    girls who are 13 or even 12 years old," according to Maria das Dores Gomes, director
    of the Paraisópolis Residents Union. The Cartório do Butantã (notary public bureau) has
    offered to issue free birth certificates in the favela (shantytown) and revealed
    that 10% of all births are by mothers who are 15 years old and younger. But they have just
    started their work in the last few of months.

    The plight of the too-young mother is not one limited to Paraisópolis or large cities favelas.
    Today, one in four children is born to a mother who is 19 years old or younger. In the
    early ’90s the proportion was one in five. IBGE’s (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e
    Estatística—Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics) figures show that the
    number of mothers who are 15 years old or younger has tripled between 1970 and 1990. The
    most common cause for hospitalization among girls between 10 and 14 is childbirth,
    according to the Health Ministry.

    O Estado told the story of 14-year-old L.S., who lost her viriginity at 13 and
    soon after got pregnant by a 18-year-old boy from the middle-class, who then disappeared.
    "I knew this could happen," said L. S., "but my boyfriend told me that it
    didn’t happen in the beginning and I became careless." After becoming pregnant, the
    girl who lived with ther dad in Fortaleza—capital of the northeastern state of
    Ceará—was sent to her mom’s house in Paraisópolis. "Before I wanted to be
    doctor, but now I don’t even know if I am going back to school," she said while
    holding ther 3-month-old baby.

    Abortions are frequent and risky. More than half of the teens seen by the Hospital São
    Paulo’s Family Planning Center go through an abortion, one third of the time self induced.

    Violence and Death

    Brasília was shaken by several murders committed by youngsters’ gangs in recent years.
    The most notorious of these crimes—with international repercussion—was the
    assassination of Pataxó Indian, Galdino Jesus dos Santos, who was set on fire last year
    while he slept on a bus bench. Those involved in the crime were all kids from rich
    families who were looking for some fun and thrills. Those who thought that it was an
    isolated episode have been disproved by the facts. Brazilian kids have been forming
    unnamed gangs.

    The new groups are becoming famous for their cruelty. In September, there were more
    than 15,000 cases of crimes by minors between the ages of 12 and 17 being investigated by
    the Promotoria de Justiça da Infância e da Juventude (Justice Prosecution Office for
    Childhood and Youth). For the most part, analyses have shown that law breakers belong to
    families where parents are absent or don’t offer proper orientation to their children.

    Skinheads are among the most dangerous. They usually start a fight and beat people
    without any provocation. According to Suzana Machado, director of Brasília’s Child and
    Youth Department, gangs are becoming more daring and lethal every day: "These
    youngsters from the upper middle class have bigger bodies and almost all of them practice
    martial arts. With this craze of body cult, fights are always more violent."

    Another problem with teens, one rarely shown in statistics, is the growing rate of
    suicides. A study by Claves (Centro Latino-Americano de Estudos de Violência e
    Saúde—Latin-American Center for the Study of Violence and Health)—an
    institution in Rio—reveals that the rate of suicides of youngsters between the ages
    of 15 and 24 has increased by 26% from 1979 to 1993.

    Nine state capitals were involved in the research: Rio, São Paulo, Belém (Pará),
    Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais), Curitiba (Paraná), Fortaleza (Ceará), Porto Alegre (Rio
    Grande do Sul), Recife (Pernambuco), and Salvador (Bahia). The most dramatic increase
    (80%) occurred in São Paulo where, in 1993, there were 8.06 deaths for every 100,000
    people in that age group compared to 4.47 in 1979. Among the little good news: there was a
    small reduction in the number of youth suicides in Rio, Belo Horizonte, Belém, and

    With 21.7% of all the suicides for this age group in 1995, it only lost to the 25 to 34
    age group (24%) as champion of suicides. Despite the severity, by world standards these
    numbers are not considered high. By comparison, 29 in every 100,000 Australians aged 15 to
    24 killed themselves in 1993.

    Drinking and Drugs

    According to the National Cancer Institute’s National Coordination for the Control of
    Smoking and Cancer Primary Prevention (Contapp),12 is the average age at which kids try
    their first cigarette. Half of them will become addicted. Peer pressure seems to be the
    main factor behind taking on smoking. WHO’s data show that 75% of Latin American smokers
    started the habit between the ages of 14 and 17.

    Alcohol is the preferred drug by both male and female youngsters. A study by Cebrid
    (Centro Brasileiro de Informações Sobre Drogas Psicotrópicas—Brazilian Center for
    Information on Psychotropic Drug) showed that half of all children taste alcohol for the
    first time between the ages of 10 and 12, and that 28.6% of the time they get their first
    sip at home.

    Cebrid polled 15,503 students from elementary and secondary schools from ten state
    capital cities. The research also revealed that 23.81% were led to drink by peer pressure,
    that 10.5% missed school after drinking and that 28.9% used alcohol up to the point where
    they lost control. Other studies suggest that close to 10% of the kids who use alcohol mix
    it with pot and cocaine.

    Veja magazine cites a recent study in 16 large cities by researcher Tânia
    Zagury in which she found out that 57.7% of kids have their first experience with illegal
    drugs before they are 14 years old.

    Homo Apoliticus

    Except for the few politicized ones, today’s adolescents seem indifferent to politics.
    There is nothing that resembles the throngs of students defying tanks and police in 1968
    or even the much tamer crowd of caras pintadas (painted faces) of six years ago who
    went to the streets to demand for corruption-plagued President Fernando Collor de Mello’s

    In São Paulo and Rio, less than 30% of the 16 and 17 year olds with right to vote have
    applied for a título de eleitor (voter identication card). In a mere three small
    states—Piauí, Tocantins, and Rio Grande do Norte—this number surpasses 50% of
    the eligible voters.

    According to a Unesco study with 400 youngsters from Brasília aged 14 to 20, only 0.5%
    of them trust Congress or their own student representatives. The same study showed that
    67% of the respondents would not participate in a strike in their own schools and that 63%
    never go out on a demonstration, even though 59% of them say that they follow politics
    through TV news programs.

    The main concern for 97.8% of them: to have a good job, to have money, to have a family
    and to be happy. Two percent only seemed worried about the country’s future. "What’s
    going to happen in a few years when it’s time for these youngsters to take a position and
    assume a political post?," asked political scientist Marcos Coimbra, director of the
    research institute Vox Populi.


    Some Personal Questions

    In its October issue Capricho presented the results of a questionnaire given to
    500 boys from São Paulo, Rio, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Brasília e Salvador. The
    questions couldn’t be more intimate.

    How many times a day do you think about sex?

    Several times 77%

    Once 15%

    Rarely 8%

    Is it uncool for a girl to have a condom in her purse?

    No 80%

    Yes 12%

    Don’t know 8%

    Is it uncool for the girl to be experienced?

    No 49%

    Yes 31%

    It doesn’t matter 20%

    Should the girl take the initiative?

    No 54%

    Yes 25%

    It doesn’t matter 21%

    Is it a problem if the girl is not a virgin anymore?

    No 66%

    It doesn’t matter 22%

    Yes 12%

    If the girl is menstruating, you…

    don’t have sex 39%

    stay indifferent 28%

    don’t like it but go ahead 27%

    get more excited 6%

    The time to put on the condom is

    nothing special 39%

    exciting or embarrassing depending on the girl 35%

    exciting 15%

    embarrassing 11%

    If you lose your erection you

    try again 68%

    say: "This never happened to me before." 16%

    wait for her action 11%

    give up 5%

    If she wants to stop in the middle of the action you…

    try to understand 57%

    you insist 32%

    you get annoyed and give up 11%

    After sex you

    keep to yourself 66%

    take care of the girl 25%

    lose the interest in the girl 9%

    Teens of
    All Colors

    Earlier this year Correio Brasiliense tried to classify and map what they called
    the teen tribos (tribes) of the nation’s capital. They came up with 12 galeras
    (groups), which they divided in three groups: those who prefer to have fun at home, the
    health and adrenaline generation, and those who gather in malls, clubs and streets. They
    now even have their own magazine, Tribu, a bimonthly publication that started with
    an initial circulation of 10,000 copies and covers fashion, behavior, and culture.

    The street people, i.e. those who socialize in nightclubs, parties, malls and the like
    are the skaters, the rockers, the clubbers, the patricinhas and playboys
    (upper-class boys and girls) and the GLS (gays, lesbians and sympathizers). You
    distinguish one tribe from the other by the clothes their members wear. The clubbers are
    the most colorful, starting with the colorized hair, plus bright clothing, piercing and
    appealing earrings.

    For them, fun is a dance hall filled with noisy techno music. Their parties, also known
    as raves, can happen in the most unusual places and have already happened in the subway
    tunnel, a bathroom at University of Brasília, and even inside a moving truck. Nothing for
    them could be more uncool than normal events and people. The GLSs have many of the
    clubbers taste including the choice of meeting places and music, even though they usually
    stay in their own places known as bares arco-íris (rainbow bar).

    Skaters and rockers seem to prefer action to talk and when they open their mouth their
    talk seems more like gobbledygook to the non-initiated. They use plenty of their in-house
    slang. sometimes just recycled old slang. They wear baggy Bermuda shorts, T shirts with
    bands or morbid themes including skeletons, and love their tattoos. As for hair they go
    from the long-haired manes to the shaved heads. Their favorite hangouts during the day are
    the alternative and imported CD shops.

    Patys (or patricinhas) are the female answer to the mauricinhos. These
    are well-to-do boys and girls who dress more conservatively. A cellular phone and an
    expensive as-possible imported car are a must to belong to this tribe. Since they try to
    mix only with teens of their own status, patys and mauricinhos end up having some
    bars exclusively for themselves.

    The healthy generation loves the outdoors, the fitness club, the special diet and
    little or no alcohol and dangerous sports like rappelling. The domestic tribes on the
    other hand find everything they need to have fun at home: the VCR, the computer linked to
    the Internet, the telephone, or even the Bible.

    Tribe Talk


    Alô!—(hello) notice of someone entering the rink


    Cacetada na mulera—(knock over the head) punk rock show



    Ié!—salutation for a well-done maneuver

    Nocar—to expel someone from a group

    Punk—strong scenes

    Sem miséria!—(lit. without misery) without limit

    Shift + Del—to erase, to send into space

    Uma vaca!—(a cow) to describe someone who falls down

    Sport Lovers:

    Pé de rato—(mouse foot) someone who bikes badly


    Sarado—(cured) cool guy, healthy person


    Burro preto—(black jackass) four-door black Opala car used by rappers


    E aí, fera!—(and there, beast) what’s up bro




    Muvucada—a crowd

    Palha—(straw) boring person

    Prego—(nail) boring person

    Queimação—(burning) boring person

    Rola aí!—send this along


    Véi—brother, old chum

    Xarope—(syrup) boring person

    Patricinhas and playboys:

    Ficar—(to stay) to engage in heavy petting


    GLS (Gays, Lesbians and Sympathizers)


    Biba—gay man (checkmeaning)

    Bicha, mulher, senhora—gay man

    Bolacha, fancha, sapê, tanque girl—gay woman

    Barbie, Johnny Bravo—gays wearing baby-look blouses


    Curra—(rape) thrashing

    Do bem—pretty gay


    Pão com ovo, pintosa, poc-poc, requenguela—effeminate gay man


    Racha gay—friendly woman

    Rio Clubbers:


    Basi—Marijuana cigarette

    E—(pronounced ee) Ecstasy

    Fazer carão—to be obnoxious

    Junkie—black clothes, dreary situation

    Lombrou—it went wrong

    Ó—terrrible as in Este a é ó (This acid is awful)

    Tá parando—(it’s stopping) it is great


    Nocar—to oust someone from a chat group

    Shift + Del—to delete

    Follows—right on!

    A Taste of Daring

    One of the most read teen publications is Atrevida (Daring Girl) from Abril
    Editora, the same company that publishes leading newsweekly Veja. Take a look at
    some titles of its extensive table of contents for the October 1998 issue:

    Like dog and cat – She is constantly mistreating the boy she likes. Why?

    What’s up, big boy? – Atrevida gives 25 hints on how to woo all kinds of boys.

    Word of Boy – They prefer girls who cast a spell or are filled with charm.

    "Sabe-Tudo Sobre Sexo" (Know It All About Sex) is one of the sections that
    invites reader participation. It is a question-and-answer column. A sample:

    Question: "Is it true that boys who are taller and have big biceps are better
    endowed than the shorties?" M., 14 years old, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul

    Answer: No. The size of the penis has no relation to the boy’s body shape. Short boys
    can have a big penis or vice-versa. Another common folklore about this subject is that men
    of certain races like Negro, for example, are usually better endowed than the
    representatives of other ethnic groups. There is no scientific basis for that either.

    The penis size has more to do with the hereditary factor. The son inherits the size of
    his sexual organ from his father (who in turn got it from his grandfather or great

    To summarize, it is good that you know that the capacity for having and giving pleasure
    is not related to the size of the boy’s penis, but to other factors like intimacy that
    exists between the boy and the girl or his capacity to notice what can give pleasure to
    his partner.

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