The Dark Side of School


The children are allowed back to school. They are looking forward to learning together in their classes and spending time with friends during the breaks. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones populating the schoolyards again.

The circulation of drugs in schools, especially poorer schools, was a big problem even before the pandemic. In many schools in the poorer neighborhoods of Guayaquil, it is normal for children to take drugs from the age of about 12. Drug gangs try to recruit students in front of the schools to resell the drugs to their classmates. Due to the pandemic, many contacts have been broken off. Now the dealers are trying to regain a foothold in the schools with far more aggressive measures. Both students and teachers are threatened with weapons and the students are literally besieged. Schools have already had to close because they could not handle the situation. 

At one of Guayaquil's schools, a shooting occurred in the morning before classes. Some of the children who regularly come to the workshops and activities of our prevention work were on the scene. Immediately on the afternoon of the incident, our team opened the workshop premises to the children and young people and spent time with them to help them and gave them the opportunity to talk about the incident in order to be able to somewhat process the initial shock.

Most of the children from Guayaquil's slum area, besides poverty, come from difficult and chaotic family backgrounds. Since most of them have been living in such conditions for several generations, the parents are often not in a position to be there for their children, to offer them emotional support and a place of safety and security at home. That is why the prevention work is not just about enabling the children to attend workshops. For the past 10 years, our ministry has offered them not only protected space to play, but also a safe place to go. They know that they can find an open ear for their needs with our team. 

You can learn more about the conditions in Ecuador here.