There are many Guatemalan children who feel insecure and fear violence as they make their way to school. According to a recent survey, 8 out of 10 fear theft, bus accidents, and other dangers. The study, conducted by the private company Vox Latina, examined 817 students, 817 teachers and 253 parents.

Of those surveyed, 35.8% said that they fear violent criminal gangs, while 21.1% fear theft. Responses to the survey indicate that 64.5% of the main attacks on students are verbal, and 25.2% are physical. In addition, 77% of teachers do not know how to react or how to deal with such incidents, since there is no law that protects them. It turns out that 28.4% of teachers have been a victim or know of someone who has suffered harassment by gangs, while 11, 6% reported cases of drug smuggling and 28.4% reported the drinking of alcohol near school premises.

Sexual harassment is the less reported violence by the students, with only 19.3% declaring to be victimized. The lack of trust in Guatemala's police is very high:  77% of school children do not feel protected by the National Civil Police, despite a program called "Safe Schools". 

And, when it comes to seeking help, 37.7% did not trust hospitals or health centers, as opposed to 15.3%. Despite its notorious violence, Guatemala is a country where school continues to be a safe space for students. The survey showed that 81,2% of pupils reported that external factors (outside the classroom) are the most dangerous.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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