Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law

Cléssio Moura de Souza

Günterstalstraße 73

79100 Freiburg i. Br. Germany

Cléssio Moura de Souza

Cléssio Moura de Souza

Cléssio Moura de Souza



  • +49 761 7081-314


  • +49 761 7081-294

Main Focus

Violence, Street Violence, Youth and Violence, Youth and Criminality in Brazil, Juvenile Delinquency.

Regional Focus


Doctoral Dissertation Project

Youth and Violence in Brazil: Exploring Youths' Narratives about Street Violence related to Drug and Social Order in Brazil’s most Violent City

Supervisors: H.-J. Albrecht/D. Oberwittler
Conferring University:
University of Freiburg

Youth and Violence in Brazil: exploring youths' narratives about street violence related to drug and social order in Brazil’s most violent city

Street violence in Brazil has been increasing in the last years and youths represent the majority of victims and perpetrators. These tendencies have been shown by national and international studies  in which violence is measured using homicides figures. The studies have been very useful for scholars to identify where and how violent acts occurred, as well as profiles of the victims. In the particular case of Brazil, the study Mapa da Violência  emphasized the existence of direct link between the increase of homicides, involvement of youths in criminal activities and use of fire arms. The mass media, on the other hand, report every day about people being robbed, beaten, and murdered on the streets; armed confrontations between criminal groups to maintain or gain the control over drug trafficking areas. In response to these facts, the government invests in police forces in an attempt to reestablish social order and to gain back areas, which are considered to be domains of criminal groups and organized crime. Within this context, the important question emerges regarding the process in which youths become involved in street violence, considering individual development on criminal life, environment, social rules, groups, family and ties that motivate or enforce youths to be part of criminal groups.
With the population of 932.748  people, Maceió is 14th most populated capital in Brazil (among 27 capitals) but it holds the first position in homicide rates since 2008. In 2014 the Organization Seguridad Justicia y Paz , published a list with the 50 most violent cities  around the World in 2013 and Maceió was pointed to have 5th position in this ranking, after four others Latin-American cities. Maceió is the first Brazilian city in this ranking and confirms the tendency of the last studies of Mapa da Violência, in which the city is marked to be the most violent place for youths (between 15 and 24 years) and adults (over 25 years) since 2008 . To explain this phenomenon in Maceió, the study Map of Violence 2008 suggest that some cities are experiencing rapid industrial growth, which in turn is attracting an influx of workers, including a substantial amount of young people. As the number of would-be workers arriving in the cities often exceeds the available work opportunities, a vast number of unemployed youths without qualification are not able to enter the formal work market. Without perspective to work in the formal market, youths are attracted to informal or illegal activities, such as, selling drugs, producing and selling illegal copies of CDs and DVDs, physical tasks in which they have to work as bricklayer's assistant or transporting things into the markets and on the streets of the city.
Favela, comunidade, morro, and grota, are examples of specific terms used to designate stigmatized communities or neighbourhoods in Maceió. Those parts of cities are known to be dangerous or prohibited areas, which people have to avoid, since a high level of brutal violent acts takes place there . Those areas became the perfect spot for drug business, since there is a large amount of unoccupied youths on the streets waiting for an opportunity to gain status, identity, recognition and money. The Drug trafficking brought new values and rules to the streets and violent acts emerged as the most effective tool to manage the relation among people in those areas.
This is an ethnographic study based on participative observations, in-depth qualitative interviews with male youths, who had intense contact with street violence, and also expert interviews. Judicial and police reports were also collected and they will be used as a secondary data sources for this work. All the data were collected during the seven months (from January until July 2013) in Maceió.
The main objectives of this study are to identify processes that make male youths be involved in street violence in Maceió, emphasizing risk factors, as individuality, families, peers, school, and community; to examine the role the violence plays in criminal groups and social order on the streets of Maceió; and to observe the relation between youth street violence and urban areas of the city.  Other import points of the study are the investigation of the ''universe'' of drug trafficking, understanding why have this business become so attractive for youths and also examination on how the street violence is related to drug dealing and trafficking, and how can it be used as an instrument of punishment in order to establish social control in the communities.



Moura de Souza, Cléssio. Straftaten Jugendlicher in Brasilien. Monatsschrift für Kriminologie und Strafrechtsreform. 93. Jahrgang, Heft 3 (Juni) 2010, S. 230 - 242.

Moura de Souza, Cléssio. Teenagers, Violence and Crime in Brazil. Freedom from Fear Magazine. Issue 8, Dez. 2010 (online journal).

Moura de Souza, Cléssio. El “Ato Infracional” en Brasil. In: Anuario de Justicia de Menores. Astigi, 2009, Issue/Volume IX, p. 273 - 292.


  • Consultant (national consultant) of the International Center for Research and Policy on Childhood (CIESPI) – Brazil

Curriculum Vitae

Since October 2011     
PhD Candidate of the International Max Planck Research School on Retaliation, Mediation and Punishment (IMPRS REMEP) at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg i.Br., Germany

2010 – 2011     
Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg i.Br., Germany / Department of Criminology

2007 – 2012    
Master of Laws (LL.M.), University of Freiburg

February 2007     
Certification of License in the examinations of the Order, Order of Lawyers of Brazil, Sectional of the State of Rio de Janeiro

2001 – 2006     
Bachelor in Law, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro

2004 – 2005     
Researcher at the Rio de Janeiro State University, Law School, Center for Research on Children's and Adolescents' Rights

Organizational Unit (Department, Group, Facility):

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