Page last updated at 08:56 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 09:56 UK

Study charts Brazil youth murders

By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Foz do Iguacu leads the murder rate table

A young black teenager in Brazil is nearly three times more likely to die as a result of violence than a white adolescent, a new report has concluded.

The study found that 5,000 young people aged between 12 and 18 are killed in Brazil's cities and towns each year.

The majority of victims are said to be poor, uneducated black males.

The report was prepared by the UN children's agency, Unicef, the Brazilian government and a group which monitors life in Brazil's shanty towns.

The report paints a depressing picture of the level of violent deaths among young people in Brazil.

In a projection based upon current trends, and starting from the year 2006, it suggests that some 33,000 Brazilian adolescents will die as a result of violence by the year 2012.

On average 2 out of every 1,000 children aged 12 will die before reaching 19
Adolescent death:
murder 45% of cases, natural causes 25%, accidents 22%
Most violent town for youths tourist spot of Foz de Iguacu - nearly 1 in 100 youths killed
Index of Adolescent Homicide (IHA) studied 267 towns and cities with pop of 100,000+

Among the main reasons for these killings were problems linked to the consumption of drugs such as debts that were owed to traffickers. The risk of dying violently was nearly 12 times higher among young men than among teenage girls, and nearly three times as high among young blacks as whites.

With firearms singled out as one the main causes of death, the reports' authors say some form of gun control is imperative.

A Unicef official said the level of fatalities among young people was undermining the gains the government had made in bringing down infant mortality, with children saved in infancy starting to die from the age of 12.

In his first reaction to the report Brazil's President Lula pointed to efforts already being made to confront poverty and violence, but acknowledged there were still many things that needed to be done.

One official highlighted the current public focus on swine flu in Brazil in which every single death was recorded, and said the same level of concern was required over young lives lost through violence.

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