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