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Saúde e Sociedade

Print version ISSN 0104-1290On-line version ISSN 1984-0470

Saude soc. vol.29 no.3 São Paulo  2020  Epub Sep 18, 2020 

Original articles

The State-of-the-Art on youth, vulnerabilities, and violence: what do surveys tell us?

Beatriz Akemi Takeitia

Monica Villaça Gonçalvesa

Suellen Pataro Alves Santos de Oliveiraa

Tatiane da Silva Elisiarioa

aUniversidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Centro de Ciências da Saúde. Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil. E-mail: E-mail: E-mail: E-mail:


Studies on youth at the interface between vulnerabilities and violence already constitute a considerable corpus of knowledge in Brazil and Latin America. This bibliographic review identifies and describes articles published from 2006 to 2018 on youth, vulnerabilities, and violence in the fields of health and humanities and social sciences. The search included articles indexed in the databases: DOAJ, Cengage, Dialnet, Scopus, and Web of Science, all available at the CAPES periodical portal. A total of 192 articles were included: 132 from the health sciences and 60 from the humanities and social sciences. The articles were grouped into two thematic fields: territories of youth vulnerabilities and violence, and risk and protective factors against violence. Our results show the subject of youth and adolescence in the fields of knowledge is still addressed by problematic perspectives. When addressing the interface between youth vulnerabilities and violence, these fields often depict the problems arisen from this subject as an object of failure or anomie in the ways of being and living this stage of life.

Palavras-chave: Youth; Vulnerability; Violence; State-of-the-Art


Estudos sobre as juventudes na interface das vulnerabilidades e violências já se constituem um corpus de conhecimento considerável no Brasil e na América Latina. Este levantamento objetiva identificar e descrever as publicações produzidas sobre juventude, vulnerabilidade e violência nas áreas da saúde e das ciências humanas e sociais. Trata-se de uma revisão bibliográfica de artigos produzidos no período de 2006 a 2018. O levantamento bibliográfico focalizou artigos indexados nas bases de dados: Directory of Open Access Journals, Cengage, Dialnet, Scopus e Web of Science, todas inseridas no Portal de Periódicos da Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (Capes). Foram incluídos 191 artigos, sendo 128 da área de ciências da saúde e 63 da área de ciências humanas e sociais. Para a análise dos dados, os artigos foram agrupados em dois campos temáticos: territórios das vulnerabilidades e violências juvenis, e fatores de risco e proteção às violências. As evidências deste levantamento nos permitem apontar que a temática juventude-adolescência abordada por essas áreas de conhecimento ainda expressa uma perspectiva problematizadora. Tais estudos, ao abordarem a juventude na interface com as vulnerabilidades e violências, o fazem quase sempre pelos problemas que ela apresenta, como objeto de falha ou anomia nos modos de ser e viver esta etapa da vida.

Palavras-chave: Juventude; Vulnerabilidade; Violência; Estado da Arte


The literature on youth, vulnerabilities, and violence comprises a considerable production in Brazil and Latin America, especially regarding studies focusing on youth experiences in the context of urban peripheries and slums in Brazilian metropolises (Takeiti; Vicentin, 2015). This theme has been the object of study and analysis of systematized reviews or in the form of state-of-the-art (Alvarado; Vommaro, 2010; Minayo; Souza, 2003; Spósito, 2009), for problematizing how the urban and poor youth has been academically treated and thought of. Takeiti and Vicentin (2015) discuss how research has treated youths from problematic or problem-solving aspects and state that this subject must be deepened from different viewpoints and perspectives.

Studies with a state-of-the-art nature support researchers in identifying the knowledges and gaps regarding youths, guiding new research. For Dayrell and Carrano (2009), the state-of-the-art is a systematic effort to inventory and describe for learning and “taking stock” of what was produced at a certain time and place. The reliability of this type of research requires a clear outline of the universe to be investigated, available sources, data analysis (Davies, 2007) and, above all, the question of what is intended to know.

For being a complex and broad subject - in which youth studies tend to treat the youth from different perspectives, - this inventory helps problematizing the ways through which we view and drive perceptions about the youth, and also supports us by favoring public policies that meet the real needs of this population.

Methodological assumptions

This literature review (in national and international literature) presents the state-of-the-art on the production of knowledge related to research on youth, vulnerabilities, and violence published from 2006 to 2018. The search included articles indexed in the databases: Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Cengage, Dialnet, Scopus, and Web of Science; all of which are available at the periodical portal of Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES). We sought to follow already published state-of-the-art reviews on the subject (Alvarado; Vommaro, 2010; Minayo; Souza, 2003; Spósito, 2009), to dialogue with them by adopting similar and/or complementary standards for defining our corpus.

Time frame was limited between 2006 and 2018, enabling us to dialogue not only with previous productions (1998-2008) but also with other reviews, such as Spósito (2009), Minayo and Souza (2003), and Takeiti and Vicentin (2015).

Articles from the fields of health sciences and humanities and social sciences were collected. For searching the articles in the CAPES periodical portal, we selected seven controlled descriptors (DeCS) - adolescence, adolescent, youth, young, violence, vulnerability, and risk - and performed the following Boolean search: [adolescence OR adolescent OR youth OR young] AND [vulnerability OR risk] AND violence.

A registering protocol of the identified works was created, including: title, publication year, researched database, author, type of study, keywords, research approach (quantitative, qualitative, or mixed), objective(s), theme, and abstract.

Inclusion criteria were: published articles addressing the theme (youth, vulnerability, and violence) in the title, abstract, or keywords; inserted in the selected fields of knowledge (health and humanities and social sciences); conducted between 2006 and 2018; and written in English and Portuguese. We excluded articles written in a language other than those defined by this study, those that did not address the theme of youth, vulnerability and violence, and those that were outside the period set.

For analyzing the collected material, articles were categorized by addressed theme (Bardin, 2016), after titles, keywords, and abstracts were read, into 12 categories: domestic or intrafamily violence; bullying/discrimination; youth mortality/homicide; urban violence and social determinants; adolescent and teen pregnancy; use of alcohol and other drugs; violence prevention; intervention methods; public policies aimed at youth; mental health in adolescence; social vulnerabilities; and sexuality/gender. When the abstract was unclear, we read the full text.


This research was divided in two parts. First, we collected 1,184 scientific papers, of which 992 were excluded either for duplicity or because they did not meet the survey scope. This analysis included 191 articles: 128 from health sciences and 63 from humanities and social sciences, as the flowchart in Figure 1 shows.

Figure 1 Flowchart of articles search in the periodical portal of Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior 

To facilitate data analysis, we grouped the articles into two thematic fields: territories of youth vulnerabilities and violence, and risk and protective factors against violence - according to Chart 1.

Chart 1 Brazilian scientific production on youth, vulnerabilities, and violence, from 2006 to 2018 by addressed topic 

1. Territories of youth vulnerabilities and violence
Thematic fields addressed in the work Health Sciences Humanities and Social sciences
1.1 Domestic or intrafamily violence Azambuja, 2006 (Rev. Virtual Textos & Contextos) Habigzang et al., 2008 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Bordin et al., 2006 (Rev. Brasileira de Psiquiatria) Silva; Neto; Cabral, 2009 (Psicologia em Estudo)
Sullca; Schirmer, 2006 (Rev. Latino-Americana de Enfermagem) Costa et al., 2011 (Avances en Psicologia Latinoamericana)
Audi et al., 2008 (Rev. de Saúde Pública) Habigzang; Ramos; Koller, 2011 (Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa)
Ayala et al., 2009 (Rev. de Saúde Pública) Paludo; Schiro, 2012 (Estudos de Psicologia)
Oliveira et al., 2011 (Rev. Brasileira de Saúde Materno Infantil) Patias; Siqueira; Dias, 2012 (Educação e Pesquisa)
Franzin; Franzin; Moysés, 2012 (Colloquium Vitae) Schaefer; Rossetto; Kristensen, 2012 (Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa)
Motta; Lise, 2012 (Acta Scientiarum: Health Sciences) Costa; Fortunato-Costa, 2013 (Rev. Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Niñez y Juventud, Manizales)
Trabbold, 2012 (Motricidade) Irigaray et al., 2013 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Abranches; Assis; Pires, 2013 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Relva et al. 2014 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Barros et al., 2013 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Relva; Alarcão; Fernandes, 2014 (Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa)
Deslandes; Mendes; Luz, 2014 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Pasian et al., 2015 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Oliveira et al., 2014a (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Hildebrand et al., 2015 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Deslandes et al., 2016 (Interface: Comunicação, Saúde, Educação) Maia et al., 2017 (Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa)
Montezuma; Pereira; Melo, 2017 (Physis)
1.2 Bullying/discrimination Gómez et al., 2012 (Hacia promoc. Salud) Oliveira; Barbosa, 2012 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Fonseca et al., 2012 (Motricidade) Silva et al., 2012 (Trends Psychiatry Psychother)
Silva et al., 2012 (Trends Psychiatry Psychother) Albuquerque; Williams; D'Affonseca, 2013 (Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa)
Ribeiro et al., 2014 (Acta Biomedica Brasiliensia)
Costa et al., 2015 (Rev. de Saúde Pública)
Pigozi; Machado, 2015 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Horta et al., 2018 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Oliveira et al., 2018 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
1.3 Youth mortality/homicide Costa; Ludermir; Avelar, 2007 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Câmara et al., 2007 (Estudos de Psicologia)
Peres et al., 2008 (Rev. Panamericana de Salud Publica) Lolis, 2010 (Semina: Ciências Sociais e Humanas)
Minayo; Constantino, 2012 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Batista et al., 2016 (Sociedade & Estado)
Peres et al., 2012 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Salatiel, 2017 (Rev. Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales Niñez y Juventud, Manizales)
Souza et al., 2012 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Barros, Benicio, 2017 (Rev. de Psicologia)
Martins, 2013 (Rev. Brasileira de Enfermagem)
Rojas Cabrera, 2015 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Moura et al., 2015 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Costa et al. 2017 (Physis)
1.4 Urban violence and social determinants Oliveira et al., 2006 (Rev. Katálysis) Vieira; Cardoso; Guimarães, 2009 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Lopes et al., 2008 (Saúde e Sociedade)
Cocco; Lopes, 2010 (Rev. Gaúcha Enfermagem)
Castro; Cunha; Souza, 2011 (Rev. de Saúde Pública)
Huculak; Mclennan; Bordin, 2011 (Rev. Brasileira de Psiquiatria)
Melo; Barros; Almeida, 2011 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Moreira et al., 2013 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Oliveira et al., 2014b (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Procópio et al., 2014 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Souza et al., 2014 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Botelho; Moraes; Leite, 2015 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Moura; Oliveira; Vasconcelos, 2015 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Melo; Garcia, 2017 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
2. Risk and protective factors against violence
Thematic fields addressed in the work Health Sciences Humanities and Social sciences
2.1 Adolescent and teen pregnancy Gontijo, 2007 (Rev. Eletrônica de Enfermagem) Oliveira-Monteiro, 2010 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Pereira et al., 2010 (Rev. de Psiquiatria Clínica) Farias; More, 2012 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Correia et al., 2011 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Patias; Gabriel; Dias, 2013 (Estudos e Pesquisas em Psicologia)
Melo; Coelho, 2011 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Pilleco; Knauth; Vigo, 2011 (Cadernos de Saúde Pública)
Heilborn et al., 2012 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Xavier et al., 2013 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Miura; Tardivo; Barrientos, 2018 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
2.2 Use of alcohol and other drugs Heim; Andrade, 2008 (Rev. de Psiquiatria Clínica) Venturi, 2017 (Tempo Social)
Wesselovicz et al., 2008 (Acta Scientiarum Health Sciences - UEM) Silva; Menezes, 2016 (Rev. Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Niñez y Juventud, Manizales)
Silva, 2010 (Escola Anna Nery)
Souza et al., 2010 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Guzmán-Facundo et al., 2011 (Rev. Latino-Americana de Enfermagem)
Rozin; Zagonel, 2012 (Acta Paulista de Enfermagem)
Veloso; Monteiro, 2013 (Rev. Latino-Americana de Enfermagem)
Backes et al., 2014 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Nascimento; Micheli, 2015 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Vieira et al., 2015 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Paula et al., 2017 (Rev. de Saúde Pública)
Hallal et al., 2017 (Cadernos de Saúde Pública)
Carvalho et al., 2017 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Dallo; Martins, 2018 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
2.3 Violence prevention Machado; Silva, 2007 (Rev. Aletheia) Brandão; Williams, 2009 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Kappel et al., 2014 (Interface: Comunicação, Saúde, Educação) Alberto et al., 2012 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Deslandes; Campos, 2015 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Nardi; Dell'aglio, 2012 (Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa)
Vieira et al., 2015 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Dutra-Thome, 2017 (Avances en Psicología Latinoamericana)
Netto; Deslandes, 2016 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
2.4 Intervention methods Lopes et al., 2011 (Interface: Comunicação, Saúde, Educação) Zaniol; Molin; Andreoli, 2007 (Rev. de Psicologia)
Monteiro et al., 2011 (Rev. de Enfermagem Referência) Broide, 2010 (Rev. Psicologia Política)
Acosta; Amaya; Koller, 2013 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Jost, 2010 (Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa)
Sampaio et al., 2014 (Interface: Comunicação, Saúde, Educação) Rossetti-Ferreira et al., 2012 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Iannelli; Assis; Pinto, 2015 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Groppo, 2015 (Revista Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Niñez y Juventud, Manizales)
Areas Neto; Constantino; Assis, 2017 (Physis) Nodari et al., 2016 (Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa)
Gadea et al., 2017 (Sociologias)
Gibbons; Poelker, 2017 (Rev. de Psicología)
Oliveira; Souza-Santibañez, 2017 (Espacio abierto: cuaderno venezolano de sociología)
Vinuto; Alvarez, 2018 (Tempo social)
2.5 Public policies aimed at youth Vendruscolo; Ferriani; Silva, 2007 (Rev. Latino-Americana de Enfermagem) Gonzales; Guareschi, 2008 (Rev. Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Niñez y Juventude, Manizales)
Costa et al., 2010 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Costa; Ferreira, 2009 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Paixão; Deslandes, 2011 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Quintero, 2009 (Rev. Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Ninez y Juventud, Manizales)
Lopez; Moreira, 2013a (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Moreno; Almeida, 2017 (Rev. de Sociologia e Política)
Lopez; Moreira, 2013b (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Barreiro; Malfitano, 2017 (Rev. Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales Niñez y Juventude, Manizales)
Ribeiro et al., 2013 (Investigación y Educación en Enfermería)
Acioli et al., 2018 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
2.6 Mental health Paula et al., 2008 (Rev. de Saúde Pública) Schneider; Ramires, 2007 (Rev. Aletheia)
Avanci; Assis; Oliveira, 2008 (Caderno de Saúde Pública) Benetti et al., 2010 (Psico-USF)
Souza; Silva-Abrão; Oliveira-Almeida, 2011 (Rev. de Salud Publica) Sá et al., 2010 (Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa)
Bontempo; Pereira, 2012 (Rev. de Terapia Ocupacional da Universidade de São Paulo) Teodoro; Cardoso; Freitas, 2010 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Lima; Dias, 2014 (Rev. Barbarói) Ximenes et al., 2013 (Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica)
Braga; D'Oliveira, 2015 (Interface: Comunicação, Saúde, Educação)
Fontes; Conceição; Machado, 2017 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Milhomens; Martins, 2017 (Physis)
Teixeira; Couto; Delgado, 2017 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
2.7 Vulnerabilities Martins; Jorge, 2009 (Acta Scientiarum. Health Sciences) Pacheco; Hutz, 2009 (Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa)
Polleto; Koller; Dell'aglio, 2009 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Siqueira; Dell'aglio, 2010 (Psicologia: Teoria e Pesquisa)
Farias Júnior et al., 2009 (Rev. Panamericana de Salud Publica) Silva; Silva, 2011 (Saúde e Sociedade)
Jesus et al., 2011 (Rev. Gaúcha Enfermagem) Gonzalez-Laurino, 2012 (Rev. Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, Ninez y Juventud, Manizales)
Ruotti; Massa; Peres, 2011 (Interface: Comunicação, Saúde, Educação) Morais; Raffaelli; Koller, 2012 (Avances en Psicologia Latinoamericana)
Gontijo et al., 2012 (Rev. Brasileira em Promoção da Saúde) Moratilla-Olvera; Taracena-Rui, 2012 (Rev. Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales Niñez y Juventud, Manizales)
Malta et al., 2012 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Olivar, 2014 (Rev. Artemis)
Reis et al., 2013 (Rev. Latino-Americana de Enfermagem) Di Leo; Camarotti, 2017 (Rev. Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales Niñez y Juventud, Manizales)
Martins; Jorge, 2014 (Acta Scientiarum. Health Sciences) Figueiredo, 2017 (Cadernos de Pesquisa)
Moreira et al., 2014 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Hernandez; Cardona-Arango, Segura-Arango, 2018 (Rev. Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales Niñez y Juventude, Manizales)
Morrison et al., 2014 (Youth & Society)
Silva et al., 2014 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Di Leo; Pinheiro, 2017 (Cadernos de Saúde Pública)
Moura et al., 2018 (Rev. da Escola de Enfermagem da USP)
2.8 Sexuality or gender Cordeiro et al., 2009 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva) Batista Rojas, 2018 (Rev. de Estudios Sociales)
Ferreira; Gomes; Figueiredo, 2009 (Motricidade)
Nascimento; Gomes, 2009 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Taquette, 2010 (Rev. Saúde e Sociedade)
Paiva et al., 2011(Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Baptista et al., 2012 (Motricidade)
Souza et al., 2012 (Motricidade)
Miranda et al., 2013 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Mora; Monteiro, 2013 (Rev. Estudos Feministas)
Silva et al., 2013 (Interface: Comunicação Saúde Educação)
Assis; Gomes; Pires, 2014 (Rev. Saúde Pública)
Taquette; Rodrigues, 2015 (Interface: Comunicação Saúde Educação)
Sasaki et al., 2015 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Cecchetto et al., 2016 (Interface: Comunicação Saúde Educação)
Ferreira; Francisco; Nogueira, 2016 (Rev. Panamericana de Salud Pública)
Alves et al., 2017 (Rev. Brasileira em Promoção da Saúde)
Ceccon; Meneghel, 2017 (Physis)
Fontes et al., 2017 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Taquette et al., 2017 (Ciência & Saúde Coletiva)
Zanatta et al., 2018 (Rev. de Pesquisa: Cuidado é Fundamental Online)

Regarding publication year, both the fields of health sciences and humanities and social sciences showed a significant increase in production in 2011. Publications in the humanities and social sciences increased in 2009 and 2011. As for the health sciences, this increase occurred up from 2011 until 2015. In quantitative terms, we observed a considerable number of publications about the subject in the health field.

Data from 2018 refer only to the period between January and September - when our search was completed.

According to Figure 2, the number of studies in the health field increased between 2011 to 2015; in humanities and social sciences the peak occurred in 2012 and in 2017. The only year with more studies in the humanities and social sciences than in health was 2010.

Figure 2 Comparison of articles inventory by field of knowledge and year 

The most prevalent theme addressed in articles from health sciences, according to Figure 3, was “sexuality/gender,” followed by “domestic/intrafamily violence” and “use of alcohol and other drugs.” The themes of “bullying/discrimination” and “adolescent pregnancy” were less frequent.

Figure 3 Number of articles by category - health sciences 

As for the humanities and social sciences, most addressed themes were “domestic/intrafamily violence,” “vulnerabilities,” and “intervention methods.” “Urban violence/social determinants,” “use of alcohol and other drugs,” and “sexuality/gender” were less frequent, as Figure 4 shows.

Figure 4 Number of articles by category - humanities and social sciences 

A total of 29 publications of both fields approached the theme of “domestic and intrafamily violence” as a problem in the subject of adolescence and youth. We also found 24 articles on “vulnerabilities,” 21 on “sexuality/gender,” and 14 on “urban violence/social determinants.”

By comparing the two fields, we observed them to approach some themes similarly, as “domestic/intrafamily violence,” “vulnerabilities,” “violence prevention,” and “public policies.” However, unlike in humanities and social sciences, the themes of “sexuality/gender,” “urban violence/social determinants,” and “use of alcohol and other drugs” were frequently addressed by health sciences. “Intervention methods” was the only theme to have more articles in the humanities and social sciences, with 10 published studies. Figure 5 shows these data.

Figure 5 Comparison of the number of articles per category in the two fields of knowledge 


Historically, the trajectory of children and adolescents has been marked by multiple situations of violence, endorsed by the legal system itself. It was only with the 1988 Federal Constitution that children and adolescents acquired their rights. Brazil established a new legal-institutional scenario that recognizes the rights of any child and adolescent and their peculiar conditions of development, which should be the absolute priority in matters concerning them. Although the legal system, by promulgating the Statute of the Child and Adolescent (ECA) (Brasil, 1990), prioritizes the primacy and guarantee of this population rights, in practice, children and adolescents still suffer numerous forms of violence.

For discussion, we analyzed the studies by thematic subgroup, regardless of the field of knowledge in which they were inserted. Organizing by axes rather than fields enabled us to learn and deepen how certain themes have been treated by the research.

Territories of youth vulnerabilities and violence

Domestic or intrafamily violence

Among the numerous forms of violence perpetrated against adolescents and young people, this study highlights those occurred within the intrafamily context. Domestic or intrafamily violence refer to all forms of violence occurring in the domestic setting, and the aggressor is the responsible for the child and the adolescent. Research on this topic often typify the aggression into physical violence, psychological violence, sexual violence, and neglect. Health scholars are also concerned in estimating the prevalence of violence, its effects on mental health, and the protective factors that favor violence prevention.

In the humanities and social sciences, such studies approach the psychological aspects encompassed by the context of intrafamily violence and how risk factors, such as social vulnerabilities - considering the lack of access to public health policies, education, and culture, - incite violence. Authors who discussed this topic seems to agree that, when addressing the phenomenon of domestic and intrafamily violence, it is relevant to think about possible interventions grounded on interprofessionality and intersectoriality and supported by public policies aiming to cope and guarantee children and adolescents rights.


Bullying by children and young people is one among the forms of violence faced in the school context. This widely discussed practice among education and health professionals stresses an increasing problem that often causes adolescents and young people to fall ill. Bullying, or discrimination, refers to different intentional and repeated forms of aggression adopted by one or more subjects in an unequal power relationship (Fonseca et al., 2012). Few studies, in both fields, address this topic. The analyzed studies associated bullying with post-traumatic stress disorder, especially in the school context, and highlighted the need to prioritize bullying prevention strategies in educational institutions. Thus, knowing the prevalence and investigating risk and protective factors related to aggressive behaviors in victims can help professionals define strategies to minimize children suffering and maximize bullying control.

Youth mortality/homicide

Data from the latest Violence Atlas, published in 2018 (Cerqueira et al. 2018) confirm previous surveys: homicide victimization risk in Brazil is still higher among young people (aged from 15 to 29 years), men, blacks, and residents in risk and vulnerable areas. According to Barros and Benício (2017), these young people are considered the “unworthy of life” to whom is attributed the flaw of being “involved.” In 2016, 33,590 young people were murdered in Brazil, among which 94.6% were male. Several studies have already indicated this data growth, showing the highest incidences and prevalence in the Southeast and Northeast regions of the country. Such data is tied to the most disadvantaged social strata of these young people, indicating a clear relation between socioeconomic development, police violence, and incarceration. That is, the control of the unemployment rate and its downward trend for the young population justify the reduction in homicide rates better than public safety actions do. According to Batista et al. (2016), the organizational structure of public security combined with the fragility of social assistance actions, especially in the metropolitan region of Brasília, influence the dynamics of youth homicides. Comparative studies in South American countries - as those conducted by Minayo and Constantino (2012) and Rojas Cabrera (2015) - also suggest similarities in the issue of youth mortality. They state that changes in social systems occur from coordinated and persistent actions that articulate economic, social, and educational investments with measures for preventing and curbing homicides with a historical negative impact.

Urban violence and social determinants

Reflecting and debating on violence, especially on urban violence and its social determinants, may support prevention and promotion strategies to curb it or act in face of its occurrence. Oliveira et al. (2006), states the urge in deconstructing the culture of fear and the stigmatized figure of poor urban youth as the responsible for the high rates of urban violence, as well as decoupling urban violence from physical issues only. It is fundamental to discuss determinants that unleash violence, such as situations of vulnerability, socioeconomic deficiencies, lack of networks of support, care, and solidarity, and inefficient public policies. However, the lack of opportunities combined with low schooling and low prospects may lead some young people to commit crimes. The study of Lopes et al. (2008) proposes, as a strategy to face situations of vulnerabilities and violence, interventions grounded in education and defense of citizenship rights, such as workshops in which young people can express themselves, redraw concepts, and assume their role as agents promoting life within their own collective. Moreover, as Melo and Garcia (2017) affirm, we must stick to the public policies, established by the Youth Statute (Brasil, 2013), as legal parameters.

Risk and protective factors against violence

Adolescent pregnancy

Regarding adolescent pregnancy, the selected studies approached the theme by young people living in a situation of vulnerability. Some hypotheses correlate adolescent pregnancy with low income: first because research was conducted in public health services and, second, because it facilitates the access of the public to these studies. Other authors indicate, among the protective factors of adolescent pregnancy: acquiring a greater responsibility for their reproductive lives; reformulating life projects; seeking alternatives and help for the experienced situation of vulnerability; fostering a greater appreciation of studies (despite the difficulty in continuing them); and maintaining a relationship with the child’s father, providing a greater stability to the mother. Many cases of adolescent pregnancy are not the consequence of a mistake, but rather the result of a conscious planning.

Use of alcohol and other drugs

The use of alcohol and other drugs by adolescents and young people is a social and public health problem worldwide. Considering its great visibility and economic and social consequences, such topic has been highlighted by both the mass media and scientific investigations.

Approaching the use of alcohol and drugs by youth has been a priority for the health sciences. Conversely, we found only one publication with this study object in the field of humanities and social sciences.

This review comprises many articles addressing the specific topic of alcohol use among adolescents. They depict alcohol as a widely used drug among young people with several harmful effects - especially at this stage of life. For being a culturally and socially accepted substance, adolescents have an easy access to alcoholic beverages, despite its prohibition, including through their relatives. The mass media plays a key role in alcohol consumption, illustrating the gap in public policies for preventing its use, as they often target the issue of illicit substances. Some of the reasons pointed by research that trigger chemical dependence and motivate constant alcohol consumption are: ease of access, friends influence, place of residence, association with violence, socialization, and relief of negative feelings.

The publications reach no consensus regarding predisposing factors to the use of alcohol and other drugs. Yet, they all indicate the need for taking preventive actions in different contexts, such as school, family health strategy, and primary healthcare, as well as adopting active and participatory methods to build bonds with adolescents in partnership with different agents, and that target the family as a whole, rather than just young people.

Violence prevention

Preventing and tackling the various forms of violence in adolescence and youth entails a complex process, influenced by several factors of both the individual and collective spheres. Thus, it should consider adolescents social and community context.

Tackling these situations demands the articulation of different actors, institutions, and services present in adolescents’ lives, that is: the articulation of a network. Protective network refers to a set of agents and services (governmental or not) working together by articulated actions with the same goal: to guarantee the rights of a given population (Faleiros, 2001). For Deslandes and Campos (2015, p. 2175), this tackling network, which includes actions and services from different sectors (social assistance, security, justice, and health), aims to “develop effective preventive strategies, policies ensuring the empowerment of people in situations of violence and their human rights, accountability of aggressors, and qualified assistance.”

Networking requires some strategies, as identifying its services and actors, creating bonds between these agents, sharing procedures and collectively developing action strategies, continuing actions, and involving the family as a social support network. Articulating services of social protection, education, and health is also fundamental in this process, as well as investing in training and updating professionals who will work on them.

Intervention methods

Regarding intervention methods aiming at adolescence and youth, the selected publications apply a wide variety of references: from Paulo Freire’s assumptions of dialogical education, through phenomenology, and even psychoanalysis. Knowledge diversity, whether academic or not, is also appreciated in developing and reflecting upon youth practices, which requires inter- and transdisciplinary dialogues.

Dialogical activities that provide an equal relationship between young people and professionals using resources that bring closer and foster bonds, such as workshops and yarning circles, has shown positive results in approaching different youth-related topics (sexuality, violence, health, use of alcohol and drugs, school and family relations, etc.) in different contexts (education, health, interaction, etc.).

Individual approaches are also deemed as a possibility, both in institutional and territorial spaces. Such approach suggests working on adolescents’ individual subjectivities to resignify their lives, relationships, and desires.

Articulating the network is also a key intervention method, as it becomes essential for the effectiveness of any proposed action, although they often present flaws and require greater investment.

Public policies aimed at youth

Brazilian publications addressing public policies aimed at youth stress the importance of the 1988 Federal Constitution and the Statute of the Child and Adolescent (Brasil, 1990) as important legal frameworks. These measures shift the paradigm of children as subjects of guardianship to the understanding of children and adolescents as subjects with rights, as well as the doctrine of integral protection.

Specific protective policies are outlined in each studied topic. Publications addressing the institutionalization of children and adolescents outlined the Protection and Defense of the rights of Children and Adolescents to Family Living and Community (PNCFC). Publications approaching the issue of sexual violence and commercial sexual exploitation stressed the Program of Integrated and Referential Actions to Confront Sexual Violence in Brazilian Territory (PAIR). Studies relating health policies and violence focused on the National Policy for the Reduction of Morbidity and Mortality from Accidents and Violence. As for a study on gender, the National Policy on Integral Health Care for Adolescents and Youth was the object of analysis. We also highlight, as international documents that set parameters for protecting and guaranteeing children and adolescents’ rights, the “Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1923), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Second Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and the Vienna Declaration (1993)” (Alberto et al., 2012, p. 134). Although we have applied the youth descriptor in the search, only one publication (Barreiro; Malfitano, 2017) refers to the Youth Statute (Brasil, 2013).

Mental health

According to data from the World Health Organization, mental and behavioral disorders are common during childhood and adolescence, reaching about 20% of the population in this age group (WHO, 2003). Considering that childhood and adolescence are phases of social, cognitive, and psychological development, mental health disorders at these stages of life may entail negative short- and long-term effects on the developmental trajectories of individuals.

The concern with children’s and adolescents’ mental health in the national scenario reinforce the need for actions aimed at preventing and reversing their institutionalization. Studies that aim to underpine discussions for the implementation of guidelines for public policies, preventive programs, and care are very common.

We also observed studies interested in investigating risk and protective factors to mental health in the context of school environment or, more broadly, within a municipality or region. The concern in identifying risk and protective factors was also found in literature reviews seeking to relate violence and mental health among children and adolescents. Among these factors, we stress the concern regarding relationship with parents, collective economic situation, and exposure to community violence.

The field research we encountered in this topic have mostly adopted a quantitative approach, using standardized assessment tools. Thus, we suggest further studies to perform these evaluations from another perspective, by adopting qualitative approaches that can complement the collected data.

Only two studies related the Brazilian mental health policies stemming from the psychiatric reform movement to its articulations in the mental health of children and adolescents.

The mental health of children and adolescents has been a major concern of scholars primarily in the overall health field, and, in the humanities, for psychology. We found no studies on this topic with a sociological and social work approach, which could provide a different viewpoint regarding mental health by destigmatizing suffering, which is still deemed as an individual issue, and acknowledging it as an aspect of the contemporary social and collective life.


Vulnerability, as a conceptual notion, appears, along with the concept of exclusion, as a relatively self-explanatory category - as suggested by Spósito (2009). It happens because, when identified as social determinants for living conditions, they disregard the understanding of the youth singular ways of life and daily experiences (Takeiti; Vicentin, 2015). Vulnerability and risk sometimes are considered synonymous; others, as determiners of different situations, as begging, poverty, child labor and prostitution, teenage paternity and maternity, mother overload, use of alcohol and other drugs, family conflicts, and deaths owing to external causes. Health studies theorize the issue of vulnerabilities and risk from stressful events motivated by the youth/adolescents themselves and from the social and cultural determinants that contribute to risk situations.

Studies from both fields indicate the need for the participation of all social segments, as well as executive and legislative bodies, in formulating, monitoring, and evaluating public policies, which poses a challenge to face the situations of vulnerabilities and risk of Brazilian adolescents and youth.

Sexuality and gender

Sexuality and gender identity are social issues that must be debated and reflected upon not only in the field of health, but by all of those focused on acquiring knowledge of adolescence and youth. Our survey found a common concern among the studies on understanding how adolescents and young people deal with their sexuality, narrowing the debate to issues involving sexual initiation and the meanings attributed to it by a certain population segment.

Studies in the health field problematize sexuality and gender issues among adolescents from the problems they face regarding early pregnancy, vulnerabilities to sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, and the risks of transgenerity in the occurrence of these diseases. We found no study approaching sexuality as a way of living, knowing yourself, or socially relating. Researchers are more concerned in associating sexuality with social classes. Most of the selected studies were conducted with poor adolescents, as if the mentioned issue appeared only in certain social segments. Bautista Rojas (2018) was the only that sought to analyze sexual diversity among male adolescents in an indigenous community of Mexico. The author reported the need for constructing diverse identities to deal with the vulnerabilities of young people that face cultural and social oppressions daily.

Final considerations

We conclude that the subject of youth/adolescence is still addressed from problematic perspectives in the health sciences and humanities and social sciences. When addressing the interface between youth, vulnerabilities, and violence, these fields often depict the problems arisen from this subject as an object of failure or anomie in the ways of being and living this stage of life.

Although the topic is relevant for any field of knowledge, this study found a prevalent number of articles in the health field when compared with the humanities and social sciences. This evinces that researchers from different fields are producing knowledge on youth, adopting different theoretical perspectives and different modes of understanding the youth universe. By contemplating certain particularities of the youth experience, these studies help understanding how the selected fields of knowledge dialogue with youth experiences and singularities in contemporary times.


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Received: October 04, 2019; Revised: April 02, 2020; Accepted: June 02, 2020

Correspondence Beatriz Akemi Takeiti Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Centro de Ciências da Saúde. Rua Prof. Rodolpho Paulo Rocco, s/n, bloco k, sala 17. Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil. CEP 21941-617.

Authors’ contribution Takeiti and Gonçalves conceived and outlined the research. Oliveira and Elisiario conducted the survey. Takeiti, Gonçalves, and Oliveira analyzed and interpreted the data, drafted the article and reviewed it critically. All authors approved the final version of the article.

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