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.