On March 31, 2011, a kindergarten teacher in the state of Nuevo León, México received an award for her bravery in keep her 5 and 6 year old students safe and calm as a gun battle broke out near the school. When the violence commenced, the teacher, Ms. Alanis, remained calm, had the students lie on the floor, reassured them and sang a song to soothe them. Remaining calm under emergencies is of course critical, not only since it allows us to respond more rationally, but also to help keep those around us calm, especially children. The question of course is always: when the time comes, can we truly remain calm? For Ms. Alanis and her students, the answer is a resounding yes.
The Economist recently ran a story on the levels of violence in Mexico, which have increased five-fold since 2007, though 70 percent of the violence is concentrated in 3% of the municipalities. The interactive map offers a visual of the change since 2007:
This kind of increase in criminal violence is noted not only in Mexico but also across Central America, much of it related to an increase in organized crime and drug trafficking in the region.
All is not bleak however. A number of initiatives, including from the IDB, are moving forward to strengthen institutions that improve the safety of the country’s people, improve health, education and other basic services, strengthen support networks and offer positive alternatives for youth. Turning the tide against violence and achieving peace, however, is a long and tumultuous road. As we progress along that road, we continue to depend on the bravery and courage of teachers like Ms. Alanis and her students.