30 years from the Child and Adolescent Statute

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

The Law number 8.069, of July 13th, 1990, provides for the Child and Adolescent Statute (ECA) and under the guidelines of the 1988 Brazilian Federal Constitution, implements in the country the theory that children and adolescents are subject to rights, therefore, must have their rights guaranteed, always seeking their best interest and respecting their peculiar condition as a person in development.

The Federal Constitution establishes that:

Art. 227. It is the duty of the family, society and the State to ensure children, adolescents and young people, with absolute priority, the right to life, health, food, education, leisure, professionalism, culture, dignity, respect, freedom and family and community coexistence, in addition to putting them safe from all forms of negligence, discrimination, exploitation, violence, cruelty and oppression.

Thus, while safeguarding the fundamental rights and guarantees inherent to human beings, ECA also aligned itself with the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN) - the most accepted human rights instrument in history, ratified by 196 countries, with the exception of U.S.

These legal diplomas overcame the understanding brought by the Minorist Theory, until then applied (and with reflexes until the present day), that considered the people who had not yet reached the civil age as "minors". The term pejorative and stigmatizing, portrays an understanding that children and adolescents were not worthy of guarantees, only the object of protection of their family, especially in the father figure who exercised “family power” and, consequently, had decision-making power about their sons and daughters.

Source: https://www.gov.br/mdh/pt-br/centrais-de-conteudo/crianca-e-adolescente/estatuto-da-crianca-e-do-adolescente-versao-2019.pdf

The Children and Adolescents Statute expressly states that children and adolescents have the same rights as other people, if not more, for the protection inherent in their status as a person in development. This can be seen from the reading of the Statute:

Art. 3°: The child and adolescent enjoy all the fundamental rights inherent to the human person, without injury to the full protection referred to in this Law, assuring them, by law or by other means, of all opportunities and facilities, in order to provide them with physical, mental, moral, spiritual and social development, under conditions of freedom and dignity.

The enactment of an ECA was a necessary paradigm shift to start a social change, of concern for the well-being, personal development and guarantee of fundamental rights to children and adolescents, as part of society, as human beings and not only as an object of guardianship of the family.




BRASIL. Lei nº 8.069, de 13 de julho de 1990. Dispõe sobre o Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente e dá outras providências. Brasília: DF, 1990.

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Write by

Cristiane Duarte

Feminist lawyer active in the area of family law and defense of women’s right.

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Translation by

Karen Poltronieri

Librarian, English Teacher and Feminist master student with project in favor of the end of violence against women.

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