Security officials aim to protect schoolchildren from knifings

Teachers encouraged to hire a security guard after attacks on children at school

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2013, 5:11am

Mainland security officials have called for better protection of the nation's schoolchildren, after a violent knife attack at a primary school in central China last month.

Officials from the Central Comprehensive Social Management Commission, which oversees law enforcement, said at a high-level meeting on Wednesday that every mainland kindergarten, primary and middle school would be encouraged to hire at least one full-time security guard, People's Daily reported.

The commission has also reportedly ordered a nationwide crackdown on crime in neighbourhoods near schools, and authorities were already in the process of inspecting businesses, food vendors and construction projects in the areas to determine if any were operating illegally.

The announcement came after a brutal attack on students in a Henan province village on December 14. A middle-aged man stormed into a primary school and injured 23 students with a kitchen knife.

Surveillance video showed that the man rampaged through the school for more than half an hour before he was finally stopped. No security guard was present, and the only line of defence appeared to be students and adults armed with brooms.

Local media were quick to criticise the school for having no security, and the incident raised broader questions about the state of school security, particularly after a series of knife attacks against mainland schoolchildren in 2010 shocked the nation.

A number of measures have already been introduced, such as safety education programmes at schools and a requirement that people present their identity cards when buying large knives. Some experts said broad measures, such as increasing security at all schools, would be extremely difficult to realise, because most schools in poor and rural areas have little money.

"The lack of funding is a big issue for many schools, and it cannot be solved by the schools themselves. Financial support from government organs is required," said Professor Wang Dawei, of Chinese People's Public Security University in Beijing.