In Brazil there is a high number of children and adolescents from needy families who study and work to contribute with family income. This study aimed to identify the impact of work in children's and adolescents school performance. Method: This is a non-experimental, correlational, cross-sectional study, carried out with 133 students from secondary education, in municipal schools at Ribeiro Preto (SP). A questionnaire with questions concerning students socioeconomic characteristics about gender, age, colour, place of birth, school attendance, characterisation of the work done, wage, time of work, work shift, prior works, works consequences, absence at school, school days missed, failures and/or progression to next grade and school performance of students working compared to the ones not working. The questionnaire was previously tested and then applied to the students. The Statistical Package of Social Sciences, version 14.0, was used for the data analysis. Results: Of the 133 investigated subjects, most (63.2%) was girls; 83.9% had parents who were married or lived with partner; lived at own home (74.2%) and with siblings (95.5%). Of the 36 (27.7%) who mentioned to study and work, the minimum age of beginning to work vary from 6 to 15 years old, nevertheless, the majority (20.6%) started their activities at the age of eleven and thirteen (20.6%); the salary received for the work was US$ 61.2 in average. The reasons mentioned to work were: to contribute with family income (33%), to earn money (11.1%), liking to work (5.5%), 88.9% help parents at home after work and 38.9% have failed at school. It was identified association with the work done by the child/adolescent, that is, the chance of failing at school is 260% higher than the chance of the ones who do not work (p=0.000). Many factors contribute to the premature start of these students at work, as the size and structure of the family and poverty. The more the child and adolescent are absorbed by work, higher the chance of having an unsatisfactory school performance and abandoning studies, thus remaining with lower socioeconomic conditions.
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