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
On 14 July, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) delivered a webinar on addressing firearms possession and use in Latin American schools. UNLIREC’s recent study on the matter was presented during the one-day on-line seminar. This study included a series of initiatives and measures that have been implemented in some countries of the region, along with various recommendations to strengthen the responses to this phenomenon.
This webinar involved the participation of a representative from the Ministry of Public Education of Costa Rica and a specialist in citizen security issues from Peru. Both provided their national perspectives vis-à-vis the firearms phenomenon in school and the challenges this represents.
This webinar was open to the public and involved the participation of more than 120 people, including representatives of the sectors of education, security, interior, defense, foreign affairs, as well as United Nations agencies, civil society organizations, specialists and public interested in this topic.
Considering that incidents involving the presence and use of firearms in schools across the region have been increasingly recurring over the past few decades, there was broad agreement on the need to pay greater attention to this phenomenon, as well as to have specific responses and tools to guarantee a comprehensive and articulated approach. Above and beyond its most visible impacts (injuries and deaths), firearms in schools represent a serious obstacle to guaranteeing safe and violence-free learning spaces for boys, girls, adolescents and young people in the region.
This activity, made possible thanks to the funding provided by the Government of Sweden, forms part of a series of virtual forums that UNLIREC will be organizing with the aim of facilitating dialogue concerning this lamentable and growing phenomenon.
Over the past few decades, media reports of incidents involving firearms in schools have been increasingly recurring in many countries of the region. These incidents include firearms found inside schools, students who are caught carrying firearms among their belongings, armed students who threaten and intimidate their classmates and teachers, injuries and fatalities as a result of intentional and accidental gunshots inside schools, and even shootings. This phenomenon poses enormous challenges in ensuring safe learning spaces for girls, boys, adolescents and young people in the region.
Within this context, and to better contribute to the understanding and approach of this problem about which little has been investigated, UNLIREC recently developed a study entitled ‘Firearms in Latin American and Caribbean Schools: Approaches, Challenges and Responses’.
In addition to providing a regional overview of the subject, this study also touches on a series of measures to accurately address the presence and use of firearms in schools, which is available to States, civil society, school communities and other actors working in the areas of citizen security, arms control and school violence prevention. These measures are already being implemented in some countries of the region.
The initiatives included in this study include protocols and guidelines for intervention against the presence and use of firearms, tools for gathering information and records of incidents, safe gun storage measures at home, as well as education and awareness campaigns, among others.
This effort is aligned with the United Nations Secretary-General’s Disarmament Agenda “Securing our Common Future”, Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security.
Raising awareness about the presence and use of firearms in schools and their real and potential impacts, as well as implementing public policies and other joint initiatives to strengthen current efforts in this area, is a key task for the various actors and sectors involved in these issues.
UNLIREC thanks the support of the different governments, international organizations, civil society organizations, and experts who contributed to the data and information in order to develop this study.
This initiative forms part of a larger project on firearms in Latin American and Caribbean schools made possible thanks to the funding provided by the Government of Sweden.
22-23 October 2019 – Over the last few decades, in some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, reports of firearms being found in schools have become increasingly common. These cases include, among others, students who are caught carrying firearms, armed students who threaten and intimidate their classmates and teachers, as well as accidental and intentional shootings within schools. Such events point to a phenomenon that exists within the region in many shapes and forms.
In Lima, Peru, UNLIREC, with the financial support of the Swedish Government, held the Regional Seminar on initiatives for preventing and dealing with the presence and use of firearms in schools within the region. This was done with the goal of promoting regional dialogue and exchange of experiences on this phenomenon.
During the Seminar, the most significant findings of a recent UNLIREC study on the phenomenon of firearms in schools within the region were presented. This served to examine the main characteristics, impacts and challenges surrounding this issue. In addition, a key part of this Seminar was to reveal a series of initiatives being implemented in different countries in the region to deal with and combat the presence and use of firearms in school settings.
Among the experiences shared through this Seminar are: protocols and guidelines for intervention and prevention against the presence and use of firearms in schools; equipment for data collection and management; awareness and education campaigns concerning the use of firearms and armed violence; other initiatives dedicated to reinforcing schools as safe, violence-free spaces.
Additionally, this Seminar included a group work session in which participants proposed suggestions and recommendations to ensure a comprehensive approach to the challenge posed by the presence and use of firearms in schools within the region. As part of this session, participants agreed on the necessity of a specific approach to this phenomenon, as well as the importance of specific measures and tools in knowing how to act and prevent incidents involving students with firearms within schools. These responses must prioritise the best interests of children, teenagers and young people, considering the circumstances and motivations behind each incident. They also identified the need for early-warning systems, working with the subjective dimension and social and cultural acceptance that comes with firearms, paying close attention to dominant patterns and cultural stereotypes built around masculinity.
More than 80 people participated in this event. Among them were government representatives from the education and public safety sectors, United Nations agencies, civil society organizations and experts from Latin American and Caribbean countries.
As part of their mandate and in compliance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UNLIREC will continue promoting dialogue on these topics at the regional, national and local levels. The purpose of this is to strengthen responses to this type of violence that jeopardises and weakens one of the most important spaces for ensuring the proper development of the region’s children, teenagers and young people.
On 6 December, UNLIREC organized a seminar entitled “International Initiatives for Prevention and Action regarding Presence of Firearms in Schools” in Trujillo, Peru. The seminar formed part of the United Nations Joint Programme for Human Security.
In the course of the past years, the different forms of violence that affect school environments in Latin America and the Caribbean have attracted the attention and concern of governments, international organizations, and the society in general. A number of studies have identified the presence of firearms in schools as a risk factor for violence, impacting negatively the physical and psychological security of both children and youth, as well as the teachers in the region.
The seminar organized by UNLIREC sought to create deeper understanding of this phenomenon and to develop solutions to address the challenge of firearms in schools, with attendance from roughly 80 participants.
The seminar outlined the series of initiatives and best practices found in Peru and in other countries in region that deal with the issue of firearms in schools. The emphasis was placed on exploring protocols, guidelines, and intervention mechanisms regarding the presence, carrying, and use of firearms in schools, drawing from the national experiences of Costa Rica, Argentina, and Mexico. Furthermore, the seminar also presented the participants with additional tools used in Peru and Guatemala, such as surveys and registers of violent incidents.
The seminar had broad participation, with representatives from the Ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs, and Interior, as well as from the regional, municipal, and district levels of the department of La Libertad. Also school directors, teachers, parents associations, youth from Trujillo were present and shared their views about combatting the challenge of firearms in schools.