On November 26, as part of the dissemination process of the recent regional study conducted by UNLIREC entitled “Firearms in Latin American and Caribbean Schools: approximations, challenges and responses”, a webinar was held to publicize the main findings of this study and create a space for dialogue with representatives of different sectors in Guatemala, to analyze the presence and use of firearms in schools, their impacts and challenges.

Approximately 90 people attended this webinar, including public sector representatives in the areas of education, social development, arms control, external relations, childhood and adolescence, among others, as well as civil society organizations and specialists.

As part of the agenda developed in this webinar, UNLIREC shared the most relevant findings from their regional study highlighting the main manifestations, expressions and causes of this phenomenon in the region. UNLIREC also shared different responses and initiatives that were compiled in the study to address and prevent the presence of firearms in schools, which have been implemented in some countries in the region.

To complement this regional perspective, representatives from the Ministry of Education and the Teaching Institute for Sustainable Development (IEPADES) also attended the event, who shared the national perspective on the problem in question, analyzing the different factors that influence children, adolescents and school-aged young people to be exposed to firearms. Reference was also made to the policies and programs promoted by the education sector to address the different expressions of school violence, as well as some initiatives that have been promoted from civil society coordination with public institutions in areas of diagnostics, collecting information, management and raising awareness.

Throughout the webinar and when asked which would be the most pressing measures to address this phenomenon, participants highlighted the importance of having orientation guides and protocols to address possible incidents involving the presence and use of firearms in educational centers, as well as to strengthen efforts of raising awareness among and educating the student population regarding the negative impact of firearms and armed violence in general.

Furthermore, they highlighted that it is fundamental to strengthen the coordinated and sectoral work between different institutions (education, security, childhood, arms control, among others) to prevent the presence and use of firearms in Guatemalan schools, as these spaces are key to exchanging points of view and identifying possible action routes to develop integrated work among different institutions and actors.

This virtual seminar was made possible thanks to the Government of Sweden’s valuable financial contribution.