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.