Living in London one gets used to seeing teenagers living rough on the streets, sleeping in shop doorways, and begging for money. Similarly in São Paulo and other large cities in Brazil homeless and destitute children are a common sight, but there are several striking differences. First, in Brazil there are many more of them, they are noticeably younger and they are often seen doing some form of job or ‘bicos' to earn money, such as cleaning shoes or car windows, ‘guarding’ cars, and selling small items, e.g. sweets, fruits and flowers. Another important difference is the danger to which these children are exposed. There have been frequent reports, some of which have reached the international media, of street children being massacred by vigilantes (some of whom have links with the police).
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