As part of the cycle of activities that UNLIREC has been carrying out between 2020 and 2021 to encourage conversation regionally and nationally about the phenomenon of firearms in schools, a webinar on ‘Firearms Prevention in Schools’ was held on the 16 December in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in El Salvador.
In this virtual event, UNLIREC shared the main findings of a study on Firearms in Schools in Latin America and the Caribbean: approaches, challenges and responses, presenting a regional overview of the main characteristics and developments of this phenomenon in recent years in the countries of the region, as well as sharing a series of initiatives and measures that have been implemented in some countries in the region to tackle and prevent the presence and use of firearms in schools.
To provide a national perspective on this phenomenon in El Salvador, the Ministry of Education gave a presentation in which many topics were highlighted, including the different types of risks to which schools are exposed, the current legal framework that prohibits carrying and bringing arms to schools, as well as the different measures and actions aimed at guaranteeing safe learning spaces which are free from violence.
As part of these measures, campaigns aimed at educational communities on issues of coexistence, continuous training for teachers, as well as inter-institutional coordination with the National Civil Police and other institutions to promote actions aimed at preventing the use of weapons in educational centres were highlighted.
This webinar was attended by around 175 participants, including staff from the Ministry of Education (such as educational and pedagogical advisors, coordinators, technicians, teachers, among others), as well as staff from the prevention areas of the National Civil Police.
This webinar was made possible thanks to the valuable financial contribution of the Government of Sweden.
On the 9 November, UNLIREC and the National Agency for Controlled Materials (ANMaC) of Argentina held a national dialogue on the prevention of firearms prevention in schools. The main objectives of this virtual event were to share the principal findings of the regional study conducted by UNLIREC on firearms in schools, as well as to promote the intersectorall dialogue regarding impacts, challenges and routes for action to prevent the presence and use of arms in schools.
As part of the agenda of this meeting, UNLIREC shared the main findings from the study Firearms in Schools in Latin America and the Caribbean: approaches, challenges and answers. In this vein, UNLIREC presented the regional overview of the main characteristics of this phenomenon in recent years in the countries of the region, as well as sharing a series of initiatives and measures that have been implemented in some countries in the region to address and prevent the presence and use of firearms in schools.
ANMaC held a presentation in which they highlighted the specific policies developed by the Agency in this area in recent years, highlighting the different actions that were implemented to raise awareness in educational communities about the risks and impacts of the proliferation and misuse of firearms. Of these activities, the workshops “Beliefs that kill” and “Disarming Masculinities” aimed at students from secondary schools from different provinces in Argentina were highlighted.
This national perspective was complemented by a presentation led by the Alfredo Marcenac Civil Association from the Argentinian Network for Disarmament, which highlighted some underlying cultural elements in societies that influence the phenomenon in question, such as the symbolic value assigned to weapons as mechanisms for conflict resolution. During this intervention the experience developed in the framework of the Educational Programme for Disarmament Awareness and Peacebuilding aimed at educational institutions at different levels in the Province of Buenos Aires was also shared.
This virtual meeting was possible thanks to the generous financial contribution from the Government of Switzerland.
In recent years, the proliferation of firearms has had repercussions in all parts of society including educational centres in the Latin American and Caribbean region. The readily available arms facilitate students ability to carry firearms to schools, increasing the risk that firearms are present in fights and arguments or used to threaten or cause intentional and accidental shootings leading to injuries and fatalities.
On 9 November 2021, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama and the Government of Sweden held the Webinar entitled “Firearms in Schools” to explore this phenomenon and its impact on school safety.
During the event, UNLIREC presented the most relevant findings of its study Firearms in Schools in Latin America and the Caribbean: Approaches, Challenges and Responses. The presentation included an overview of the main characteristics of this phenomenon in recent years in the countries of the region. It also outlined a series of initiatives and measures that have been implemented throughout the region, to address and prevent the presence and use of firearms in schools. UNLIREC also shared a series of recommendations aimed at strengthening responses to this phenomenon and limit its violent impact.
The Panamanian National Police presented the national legal framework, procedures and specific programmes developed to address and prevent violence in schools, including the entry of weapons onto the school grounds.
This webinar was attended by representatives from the educational, security sectors, specialists on children and adolescents and, social development matters, foreign affairs representatives as well as, civil society organisations specialized in these topics. Taking into account the multidimensionality that characterises this phenomenon participants agreed on the importance of strengthening inter-institutional coordination to ensure comprehensive approaches and, above all, to promote actions aimed at preventing armed violence against youth.
This webinar was made possible thanks to the valuable financial contribution of the government of Sweden.
On 23 October, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education of Peru, conducted a webinar on “Initiatives to address and prevent the presence and use of firearms in schools”.
This event was held over two days, with close to 300 participants. The vast majority were specialists in school coexistence from the Local Education Management Unit (UGEL) from different regions and departments in Peru, school psychologists, officials and technical staff from the Ministry of Education, as well as various representatives from the National Superintendence of Control of Security Services, Weapons, Ammunition and Explosives for Civilian Use (SUCAMEC), the Ministry of Interior and the National Police.
As part of the online event, UNLIREC shared the most relevant findings from its recent study on ‘Firearms in Latin American and Caribbean Schools: Approaches, Challenges and Responses’. This regional study, in addition to analyzing the main manifestations of this phenomenon, also compiled a series of responses and measures that are being implemented in some countries of the region to address this phenomenon. Some examples include regulatory frameworks prohibiting the presence and use of firearms in schools, safe storage measures, registration and information systems, action guides and protocols, awareness-raising and education campaigns, among others. UNLIREC also shared some policy recommendations to ensure a comprehensive approach to the presence and use of firearms in schools. As part of the recommendations included in the study, UNLIREC indicated that it is essential to consider the role of young people as agents of change and involve them, their families and communities, in designing and implementing armed violence prevention strategies.
With respect to Peru, in particular, participants indicated that although few cases have been recorded in recent years, the educational community and wider society are unaware of the scale and severity of this phenomenon. In this sense, the importance of having diagnostics and information systems to report and record cases of this nature was highlighted. Regarding these types of measures, it is important to point out that Peru has a Specialized System for Attending to Cases of School Violence (SiSeVe), which allows anyone who has been a victim or witness of school violence to make a complaint on the platform. It also considers incidents with firearms. This tool is fundamental for designing a comprehensive response to address and prevent episodes with firearms in schools.
In addition, participants indicated that it is important to move forward with the development of orientation guides and protocols to address potential episodes of the presence and use of firearms in schools. The need to strengthen coordinated and sectoral work among different institutions (education, security, childhood, arms control, among others) to prevent the presence and use of firearms in Peruvian schools was also stressed.
This space for dialogue was made possible thanks to the valuable financial contribution of the Government of Sweden.
On 30 September, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) and Instituto Sou da Paz conducted a webinar on the challenges and solutions for firearms use and possession in schools in Latin America and the Caribbean.
UNLIREC shared the most relevant findings of its recent study entitled Firearms in Latin American and Caribbean Schools: approaches, challenges and responses to a predominantly Brazilian audience. UNLIREC highlighted the fact that in recent years there has been an increasing amount of news in the media about the presence and use of firearms in schools in some countries in the region. This UNLIREC-led media monitoring study identifies the means of addressing this phenomenon and its detrimental impact by analysing over 120 cases of the presence and use of firearms in schools reported by digital media in countries across the region over a period of 9 years (between June 2010 and July 2019).
The most common manifestations of this growing phenomenon include firearms incidents taking place inside schools; students carrying firearms among their belongings; armed students who threaten and intimidate their peers and teachers; injuries and fatalities as a consequence of intentional or accidental shootings inside schools, among others. According to the findings of this study, the most common type of firearms in reported incidents were revolvers and pistols, accounting for 36% and 32%, respectively.
Likewise, with respect to where the firearms came from, it was possible to identify that in at least 25 cases, the source of firearms was directly related to the homes of the students involved. This serves as an alert as to the importance of establishing measures of safe storage for firearms carriers.
This regional approach was complemented by a national and local look at the manifestations, impacts and challenges of this phenomenon in Brazil in recent years. This analysis was carried out by representatives of Instituto Sou da Paz, the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO – Brazil), as well as a specialist member of the Public Ministry of the State of São Paulo.
The panelists agreed that the presence and use of firearms in schools and the motivations that lead students to bring a firearm to school is nourished by different factors, such as the dynamics of violence in schools, the characteristics of community contexts in which the schools are located, easy access to firearms, bullying, cultural and social acceptation of firearms seen as symbols of power, authority, respect, and masculinity, among others. In this respect, the importance of ensuring an integrated approach to prevent this phenomenon was indicated.
As part of the webinar agenda, different measures and initiatives that are being implemented in some countries of the region were shared, paying special attention to preventing the presence and use of firearms in schools, such as: protocols and guidelines for action and prevention of the presence and use of firearms in schools; tools for the collection and management of information; awareness raising campaigns and education directed at students with regard to the use of firearms and armed violence; among other initiatives focused on strengthening schools as spaces that are safe and free from armed violence.
This webinar was attended by more that 70 people from Brazil and other countries in the region linked to the public sectors of education, childhood and adolescence, security, arms control, as well as representatives of agencies of the United Nations System, international cooperation bodies, civil society organizations, academia and specialists.
This discussion space was made possible thanks to the valuable financial contribution from the Government of Sweden.
For more information, please contact:
Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer
Instituto Sou da Paz
Izabelle Mundim, Press Advisor