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Schools get tighter security
Published on: 2010-05-05
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GUANGZHOU - Campus security has been beefed up across the country with more police officers and security guards stationed in and around schools on Tuesday, the first day of classes following the three-day May Day holiday.

The tightened security measures follow a series of violent attacks against school or kindergarten children in recent weeks.

In Southwest China's Chongqing municipality, the local public security bureau set up police teams at all kindergartens, primary and middle schools, local media reported on Tuesday.

Police were told that they could "shoot on site" any suspect who is violently offending or hurting students on campus or in surrounding areas, the Chongqing Evening News reported.

People who live near schools or who have possible mental problems will be better monitored. Those who are discontent with society and have threatened to retaliate will also be closely watched, the report said.

Similar measures were being taken nationwide on Tuesday.

In Guangzhou, capital city of South China's Guangdong province, at least one police car will be sent daily patrol to every school in downtown Yuexiu district, Guangzhou Daily reported on Tuesday.

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.

"The security measures are necessary, but I don't know whether they're effective enough to protect children from being hurt," said local resident Chen Lihua, 32, outside the Zhuwei Primary School in Guangzhou.

"Authorities should take more action to deal with social problems, such as the disparity between the rich and the poor, which might be the root of these violent cases against children," she said.

Schools in other provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities including Beijing, Ningxia, Liaoning, Anhui and Jiangsu have also been ordered to employ full-time security staff, prevent unauthorized visitors from entering schools, draft emergency evacuation plans and install surveillance cameras.

In Beijing, police cars flashed lights outside some schools as guards in orange vests watched students enter the gates on Tuesday morning.

"Our main objective is to take safety precautions," said Zhang Xinxiong, a teacher in charge of security. "These days every family has only one child, so of course they are worried."

"I was a little worried after seeing those reports on TV about the attacks," said Liu Xingwu, who sent his 7-year-old granddaughter by bicycle to the Shijia Elementary School in central Beijing. "The security measures are good. But we've also told her to be careful... If there are any problems, call the police."

Another parent thought the beefed-up security measures are somewhat extreme. "Those attacks were just individual situations," said Li Bin, 37, a company manager. "There shouldn't be so many guards at the school. It makes the school environment too tense and it may scare the children."

Campus security measures are being stepped up in the wake of a string of violent attacks that took lace at schools or kindergartens since March 23, which killed at least eight children and injured 58 others.

The latest attack occurred on Friday, when a farmer used a motorcycle to break down the gate of a primary school in Weifang, Shandong province, and injured five students with a hammer. He then poured gasoline over his body and burned himself to death.

The most deadly attack occurred on March 23, in Nanping of East China's Fujian province, in which a former doctor, Zheng Minsheng, brandished a knife at the entrance of a local elementary, stabbed eight children to death and injured another five. Zheng was executed on April 28.

The Ministry of Public Security issued an emergency circular over the weekend, saying all necessary measures should be taken against attackers who prey on children.

On Monday, Zhou Yongkang, a member of the standing committee of the political bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said ensuring security at schools and kindergartens is a "major political task".

He called for special care for "people in difficult situations" and urged local governments to prevent any extreme issues caused by exacerbated contradictions.

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