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Violent incidents in schools prompt measures

Date Posted: 1998-02-14

Recently in mainland Japan, a number of violent incidents involving junior high school and elementary students have raised the concern of educators and other authorities.

A few weeks ago, a 15-year old student killed his teacher in a fit of rage because the teacher complained about his tardiness. He pulled out a knife and stabbed her eight times. This incident, and others, have prompted the Okinawa Prefecture's Board of Education to instruct some schools to check personal goods of students, to search for weapons which could be used against teachers or other students.

Who has a knife? Where did it come from? Why would a child keep a knife? Questions like these are the reason an investigation has begun, focusing on practical situations involving children's safety. The Board of Education is currently forming a team to look into these issues and would like to stress that privacy will be protected if any students are found carrying weapons.

Checking students' personal goods is a touchy issue, and the Ministry of Education wants parents and students to know and understand why such measures will be taken. "The school's environment have to be knownÉthe aim must be to protect the children's safety and life. Not only the school, but the family, community in general and the police must work together and make children understand," one of the board members said in an interview. But he also aknowledged the importance of a student's privacy, stating "we are thinking about the ways to accomplish this goal, and at least for now we won't check their personal goods."

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