Violence in Brazil


Brazilian experts decry the high levels of violence, especially urban violence, that take their toll on the public in myriad ways. One of the most damaging but least publicly understood effects of violence is the way it impacts early child development.

Since 2011, the FrameWorks Institute, in collaboration with the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and with funding from the Bernard van Leer Foundation, has conducted research to better understand how the Brazilian public understands violence and its effects on early child development and how those understandings overlap or diverge from experts on the topic. This research looks at how experts and the public define violence, think about its causes, understand its effects and speculate about what could be done to decrease violence in Brazilian society. Following on this descriptive research, FrameWorks has tested potential reframes to communicate about violence as part of a core story of early child development in Brazil.


The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, the Fundação Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal, and the Bernard van Leer Foundation.

Research & Recommendations

Pais Despreparados, Punições Mais Severas e O Efeito Dominó: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Violence and Its Effects on Early Child Development in Brazil (2014). This report, in Portuguese, compares how experts talk and Brazilians think about early childhood and early child development. Using data from interviews with both expert and pubic informants, the report details a set of key communications challenges and presents initial strategies to address these challenges.

Representations of Early Childhood and Urban Violence in Brazilian Media (2014) This report, available in both Portuguese and English, examines the explicit and implicit messages embedded in the media’s presentation of issues related to both early child development and urban violence in Brazilian newspapers. The report finds that the dominant media frames are reflective of the Brazilian public’s understandings on these issues and therefore miss opportunities to expand the discourse in productive ways.

Early Child Development and Violence in Brazil: A Field Frame Analysis (2014). This English-language Field Frame Analysis maps the competing narratives used by influential organizations to frame the debate on early child development and violence, especially violence related to early childhood. It finds that narratives of early child development are siloed and distinct with little attention given to the cognitive process of development. Organizations that communicate about violence, on the other hand, focus on one single dominant narrative, thereby missing opportunities to explore the breadth of the issue. The report concludes with recommendations as to how organizations working on these issues can use lessons from other phases of this project to communicate more effectively.

Values and Metaphors for Communicating About Early Child Development in Brazil: A FrameWorks MessageMemo (2014). This MessageMemo summarizes the findings from a comprehensive multi-method investigation of how Brazilians view early child development and reports on specific reframing tools that demonstrated strong effects in redirecting thinking and building understanding of the processes underlying early child development.

FrameWorks Institute

  Updated: 02/04/15