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Print Edition> Nation
UPDATED: May 24, 2010 NO. 21 MAY 27, 2010
Keeping Campuses Safe
In the wake of a series of brutal attacks against children around China, the country tightens its school security


SECURITY ON WHEELS: Security guards patrol school ground in Dongcheng District in Beijing on May 17 (TANG ZHAOMING) 

Death was the sentence the Taizhou Intermediate People's Court handed down to Xu Yuyuan on May 15. Xu attacked and injured 29 children and three adults at Zhongxin Kindergarten in Taixing Township in east China's Jiangsu Province on April 29.

Xu is the second person to receive the death sentence following six separate attacks on children across China in less than two months.

The brutal attacks on children have left 17 killed and scores injured, according to a statement of the Ministry of Public Security on May 12. In the latest atrocity, a 58-year-old man killed seven children and two women with a meat cleaver at a kindergarten in northwest China's Shaanxi Province on May 12.

On the afternoon of May 12, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Education held an urgent meeting urging for tightened security measures on campuses.

Bloody attacks

The first case of attacks on children happened in Nanping in southeast China's Fujian Province on March 23.

Zheng Minsheng, 42, a former community clinic doctor, stabbed eight children to death and seriously injured five others at the gate of the Nanping Experimental Elementary School.

Zheng was executed on April 28 after his death sentence was approved by the Supreme People's Court.

An investigation found Zheng stabbed the children out of frustration at failures in his romantic social life.

In another case, a man around 40 years old stabbed an 8-year-old boy and a 70-year-old woman to death 400 meters from the Xizhen Primary School in Xichang Town of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on April 12.

On April 28, 33-year-old art teacher Chen Kangbing broke into a primary school in Leizhou in south China's Guangdong Province and stabbed 15 students and one teacher with a fruit knife.

In the following two days, there were two similar attacks in east China's Jiangsu and Shandong provinces.

Taking actions

During visits to kindergartens and primary schools in north China's Shanxi Province on May 13-15, Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu ordered police forces to ensure that criminals dare not and cannot get their hands on children.

Protecting children is the primary task of schools, but also a common responsibility of the whole society, Meng said, urging the mobilization of social forces to ensure security in kindergartens and primary schools.

After the brutal attacks against students, many cities beefed up their security measures.

In Beijing, more than 2,000 school security guards, clad in helmets and armed with tear gas and batons, took up positions at about 500 kindergartens, primary schools and middle schools on May 12.

According to the new measures, there will be at least one police officer and two school security guards stationed at each school.

Meanwhile, a school security team was set up by the Beijing Security Service General Co. (SSGC) on May 12.

In contrast to regular security guards, school security guards must undergo a special one-month training program and psychological testing before they are cleared to work at the schools, the SSGC said.

"We only accept licensed security guards who have at least one year of working experience in Beijing," said Ma Xuguang, a manager at the SSGC.

He said that each guard would be equipped with a helmet, a stab-proof vest, a pair of cut-proof gloves and a rubber baton. Some schools are also providing steel pitchforks and pepper sprays to subdue would-be attackers.

"The school security guards will reside in the boarding schools. For normal schools, they will patrol around the school grounds and guard the gates during peak hours before and after school," he said.

Southwest China's Chongqing Munici-pality is spending 1.2 billion yuan ($175.7 million), the equivalent of almost half of the city's 2010 public security budget, to fortify campus security.

With these funds, 6,300 police officers will be deployed to patrol nurseries, middle and primary schools where 50,000 security guards will be permanently stationed, according to the Chongqing Municipal Bureau of Public Security.

In Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, at least one police car will be sent daily patrol to every school, according to the local Guangzhou Daily.

The city authorities ordered schools to check and register every visitor, prohibiting unauthorized people from entering the campus, and preventing knives or flammable, explosive and toxic materials from being carried into schools.

More professional security guards will be hired and equipped with non-lethal weapons in Jiangsu and Jiangxi province campuses, according to China News Service.

In other northwest and northeast provinces, there will be an increase in the number and presence of security guards stationed at schools.

On May 13, Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to address the root causes behind the tragedies.

Apart from improving security, "We need to handle social problems, resolve disputes and strengthen mediation at the grassroots level", he told Phoenix TV that day.


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