El Salvador: Keeping Gangs Out of Schools
By Dialogo October 01, 2011
Violence in El Salvador’s public education sector is on the rise. As of July 2011, 97 students were murdered, National Civil Police reported. That number rose to 108 by mid-August, according to the country’s Ministry of Education.
The troublesome numbers of gangs that are active near El Salvador’s educational centers are a factor in the crime figures. Gangs have a presence around at least 300 of the 6,000 schools in El Salvador. This presence refers to gang members “in the surrounding areas of the education centers, not within them,” Secretary of Communications for the Ministry of Education Walter Raudales told EFE in an interview.
A plan to counteract this growing trend was developed in response to this grave situation. In particular, 166 centers have been classified as category “A,” or most dangerous, due to major issues in violence, drugs and arms trafficking. To safeguard students, parents, and teachers within and around these centers, 400 agents from the National Civil Police have been deployed. “We have assigned a police patrol, with three agents that remain there throughout the entire session, to every high-risk school that we have defined,” said Hugo Ramírez Mejía, deputy of Public Security for the National Civil Police.
The plan, according to authorities, includes police agents interacting with the school community. Police officers will deliver lectures to students, especially adolescents, on topics related to crime, drugs and alcohol, and dangerous associations with gangs.
Sources: La Noticia, La Prensa Gráfica, EFE, El Salvador Ministry of Education