Spe­cial class on how to sur­vive shoot­ing in Rio

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS -

Teach­ers in vi­o­lence-wracked Rio de Janeiro started a new course on Mon­day - they are learn­ing how to re­act to the shoot­ings and vi­o­lence plagu­ing the host city of last year’s Olympic Games. Some 40 teach­ers at­tended the course or­ga­nized by the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross, and each ed­u­ca­tor will go back and in­struct col­leagues in their own schools on how to deal with a va­ri­ety of vi­o­lent in­ci­dents.

“It’s a ques­tion of know­ing how to man­age each sit­u­a­tion - how to re­act dur­ing a shoot­ing, for ex­am­ple. These are sim­ple cour­ses of ac­tion that can make a real dif­fer­ence,” said Lorenzo Caraffi, re­gional di­rec­tor of the ICRC in Latin Amer­ica. Rio has more than 1,500 pub­lic schools, a third of them lo­cated in ar­eas deemed to be at risk from vi­o­lence. Since the start of the aca­demic year, only seven of 120 school days have passed with­out at least one of the city’s schools be­ing shut down be­cause of out­breaks of vi­o­lence.

Rio is in the grip of an in­creas­ingly bloody war be­tween rival drug gangs op­er­at­ing in its fave­las - the poorer com­mu­ni­ties that lack ad­e­quate in­fra­struc­ture or po­lice, but which are home to a quar­ter of the city’s six mil­lion in­hab­i­tants. Res­i­dents can all too of­ten find them­selves pinned down by gun­fire, es­pe­cially when the quasi-mil­i­tary po­lice force bat­tles with gangs in pitched shootouts. On Mon­day, as the first class on deal­ing with vi­o­lence be­gan, 18 schools were closed due to a po­lice raid on the City of God favela, made fa­mous in the movie of the same name by di­rec­tor Fer­nando Meirelles, who also or­ches­trated the open­ing cer­e­mony of last year’s Olympics.

“The sit­u­a­tion has re­ally got much worse re­cently, so it’s im­por­tant to have ex­tra tools avail­able to deal with these chaotic sit­u­a­tions,” said Emil­iane Tinoco, one of the ed­u­ca­tors tak­ing part in the course. Tinoco co­or­di­nates hu­man re­sources for schools in Rio’s poorer north­ern zone where 13-year-old Maria Ed­uarda was killed by a stray bul­let in her school on March 30. “Teach­ers know from ex­pe­ri­ence that when a shoot­ing breaks out, you have to lead the kids into a cor­ri­dor and lie down. But they of­ten feel very alone when faced with these stress­ful sit­u­a­tions,” she said.

The daily news­pa­per O Globo said that 632 peo­ple had been hit by stray bul­lets in Rio be­tween Jan­uary 1 and July 2, an av­er­age of three a day. Sixty-seven of them died of their wounds. “We are not go­ing to solve the prob­lem from one day to the next, but we can’t just do noth­ing,” said Rio’s pub­lic schools chief Ce­sar Ben­jamin. “Ed­u­ca­tion is like Stalingrad - it’s the last bas­tion which must be de­fended what­ever the cost,” he said, re­fer­ring to the World War II bat­tle in the for­mer Soviet Union. — AFP

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