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Caitlin Doreen Kent

Education, Security and Youth Policy Responses to Gang Violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle

The Northern Triangle of Central America, made up of the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, is considered to be one of the most dangerous regions of the world predominately due to historic instability and the proliferation of youth gangs. Despite the prominence of research related to government response to gang violence in this region, few studies focus on the educational policies and reforms in the region and examining the ways in which government education policies address this violence in schools. Through a qualitative discourse analysis of 22 policy related documents from the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, this study demonstrates a preference for a softer approach to the problem of gang violence, reflecting each government’s desire for policies that work to reproduce existing social structures and which in turn increases their own internal and global legitimacy. This study invites future research focusing on the educationalization of social problems in the Northern Triangle and challenges researchers to consider the potential differences between policy prescription and policy action in the region.