Addressing Youth Trauma in a Rio de Janeiro Favela – Dr. Ian Barron

Dr. Ian Barron is Principal Investigator of a study to evaluate the efficacy of the Children and War Foundation’s Teaching Recovery Techniques (TRT) program being implemented by Fight for Peace (FFP), a Brazilian NGO, that teaches children martial arts and provides a variety of educational and mentoring services.  


Fight for Peace (Luta Pela Paz) is based in Complexo da Maré, a group of favelas in Rio de Janeiro that is home to 132,000 residents. Over half are children, adolescents and young people. Notable for high levels of poverty, social and economic exclusion and by a scarcity of public services. Fight for Peace is an organization which uses boxing and martial arts as a means of outreach work to the children and youth of local favelas who were involved with violence, guns and drugs.


In order to help youth cope with their presenting symptoms of trauma, FFP sought to embed psychosocial activities into their physical exercise curriculum. The pilot project, in a Rio favela, involved 30 male and female youth aged 8-14 years who were randomly allocated to either TRT or a treatment as usual waitlist control group. The TRT group received five 90-minute sessions that taught coping skills to address the symptoms of Posttraumatic stress disorder (flashbacks, hyper arousal and avoidance).


Luta Pela Paz


The results indicated that youth who experienced TRT presented with significantly lower levels of PTSD and depression compared to the waitlist group. In addition, a trend towards posttraumatic growth, even in the short term, was found for youth who experienced the program. [1-20]


Dr. Barron is involved with several trauma recovery projects running in the Middle East and Brazil. Dr Barron's partners include the Children and War Foundation, Bergen, The Center for Applied Research in Education (CARE), Ramallah, and Dr. Ricky Greenwald from the Child Trauma Institute in the U.S.