Tue, Mar 06, 2018 - Page 9 News List

Schools worldwide have introduced security protocols short of arming teachers

Correspondents from around the world describe how countries and schools outside the US have responded to the threat of armed violence against children by militants and troubled individuals, yet kept firearms out of classrooms


Illustration: Yusha

The US is engaged in a national debate about school security after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. To US President Donald Trump and some gun supporters, the solution is to put more guns in the hands of trained school staff — including teachers — to “play defense” against a rampaging shooter.

The rest of the world has varying strategies to deal with violence around schools, but the US appears to be the only place in the world where some want to arm teachers to the degree that Trump has suggested. Rather, emergency drills, armed guards patrolling school campuses and intruder drills appear to be the norm.


“The vast majority of schools have armed security guards,” Israeli Ministry of Education spokesman Amos Shavit said, adding that schools that do not are supposed to have heavy locks and security systems.

Visitors to a school are questioned by the guard, who checks their bags and sometimes uses a hand-held metal detector, and entry is strictly forbidden to anyone without authorization, Shavit said.

That is augmented by municipal security units that work in conjunction with police.

“If there is an incident at a school, they will be there in a minute or less,” Shavit said.

The small number of teachers who have a legal gun license and usually carry a weapon can do so in school, but it is not policy or encouraged, he said.

“Teachers here aren’t supposed to be carrying weapons in classrooms, teachers are supposed to teach,” he said.


Violent incidents have been rare in Russian schools over the past years, but two attacks last month attracted nationwide attention and drew comparisons to school violence in the US.

In one, a teenager armed with an axe attacked fellow students at a school in southern Siberia, wounding five children and a teacher. In another attack in the Ural city of Perm, two teenagers stabbed children and their teacher with knives, wounding 15 people. They then attempted to kill each other, but were detained.

The incidents highlighted lax security in schools, triggering calls for stronger protection. Now, there are security guards at Russian schools.


In the wake of deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice, France introduced new security guidelines at schools when children went back to class in September 2016.

The measures, which remain in place, include a tighter screening of people entering schools, which can include bag checks, and improved coordination with police.

Police officers patrol in school areas, while parents and students are requested to avoid gathering near schools and to report any suspicious behavior or object.

French schools also hold three security drills each year, including one in which an alleged assailant enters their premises. Students are taught how to hide or to escape.

All students aged 13 and 14, as well as class representatives, get basic training on life-saving measures. In preschool and kindergarten, for toddlers aged two to six, children are taught to hide and keep quiet through games.


Attacks on schools are rare in Japan, which has seen a handful of knifings, but guns are practically non-existent. Security measures at Japanese schools became compulsory only after a June 2001 attack at an Osaka elementary school, where eight children were stabbed to death and 15 were injured by an intruder who was later sentenced to death and executed.

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