Priscila Susin is a psychologist, Ph.D. candidate in Social Sciences at PUCRS (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil). She has work experience in research on youth involvement with crime and violence in favelas, and clinical experience in the treatment of child abuse victims. From 2008 to 2010, during her undergraduate student years in Psychology, she worked as an assistant at D. W. Winnicott Therapeutic Community (Porto Alegre, Brazil), conducting therapeutic groups with autistic patients, sexually and physically abused children and adolescents. In 2011 she worked at the Center for Psychological Research and Assistance of PUCRS, providing psychological assistance for sexually and physically abused victims and systemic therapy for low-income families. In 2011 she graduated in Psychology from PUCRS, and in 2012 she started her M.A. studies at the same university. Her final thesis, defended in the beginning of 2014, was entitled “Families, Symbolic Constructions and Violence: Biographical Research in a favela of Rio de Janeiro”. In 2014 she initiated her doctorate studies at PUCRS and has been working with the theme of the involvement of women in social movements, specially their leadership in the FLM (Housing Struggle Front), in São Paulo, Brazil. Member of the research team of Caes-PUCRS (Center for Economic and Social Analysis) since 2012, she was part of the studies “Everyday life of small children in favelas of Rio de Janeiro and Recife” and “Everyday life of small children in favelas and cortiços of São Paulo”, commissioned by the Bernard van Leer Foundation and coordinated by Prof. Dr. Hermílio Santos. Her duties as a social researcher in Caes-PUCRS are interviewing research participants (biographical interviews), conducting discussion groups with children and young participants and working on qualitative data analysis.
Childhood, Research Approaches and Violence Reduction Strategies: The Experience in Favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The engagement of children in the illegal drug trade in favelas of Rio de Janeiro has increased significantly over the past thirty years. From having only a limited involvement in exchange for gifts or small amounts of money, since the 1980s children and youngsters have come to play increasingly complex and dangerous functions, being recruited mostly at the age of thirteen and taking higher "positions" in the hierarchy of trafficking. It is within this context that the Center for Economic and Social Analysis, funded by the Bernard van Leer Foundation, has conducted the research “Everyday life of small children in favelas of Rio de Janeiro and Recife”, interviewing over 60 children aged 5 to 8 years living in nine favelas on their perceptions of violence related experiences. In order to provide a “children-centered” research method, we composed an adapted form of an episodic interview method comprising the narratives as cognitive creations that enable particular interpretations and access to the symbolic world of the children. Furthermore, in order to find adequate access to the biographical/episodic knowledge of the participants, regarding their mental, emotional, social and cognitive stage of development, the episodic interview method was preceded by a drawing activity addressing topics such as "family/household" and "favela/community". Finally, this paper aims to present three different perspectives: a) the qualitative methodology used in order to understand the perspective of children about their everyday lives, particularly violent contexts; b) the ways in which the participants presented and interpreted verbally and graphically their situation of territorial contiguity with the illegal drug trafficking; and c) how this methodology, given the empirical experience in Rio de Janeiro, has proven to be an appropriate form of intervention, providing open lines of communication that can contribute in order to prevent the engagement of children in the illegal drug trade.