Schools learn lessons on safety

08:21, May 11, 2010      

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A worker installs a camera at Xuanhua Primary School in Chongqing on Thursday. School security has become a major concern in China after six attacks on schoolchildren in two months. Chen Shichuan / For China Daily

Poor security leaves children vulnerable, experts tell Cao Li in Beijing.

After six attacks on schoolchildren in two months, China is on red alert. The vast majority of schools have already beefed up their security, with both police and teachers now closely guarding school gates, while parents have taken to escorting youngsters to and from class.

So, are the country's children safe from more knife-wielding killers?

Although many people say yes, some argue that far more needs to be done to protect the ruan lei - literally soft ribs, which means the weakest points - in the public security system.

Analysts warn that the widening wealth gap, which is leading to a growing frustration among the underprivileged, and the lack of supervision of mental illness could prove hidden dangers and prompt future attacks.

Outside Hui'anli Primary School in Beijing, 10-year-old Zeng Jiaqi appeared relatively unfazed by the brutal killings in recent weeks. "I'm not afraid," said the third-grader as she stood at the school gate with her parents, who juggle their working hours to make sure one of them can pick her up after school. "My classmates aren't afraid, either."

The innocence of youth is something to be cherished - yet such innocence is something parents cannot afford.

Thirteen children as carefree as Zeng were attacked as they walked to their primary school in Nanping, Fujian province, at 7:20 am on March 23. Zheng Minsheng, a 42-year-old former community doctor, stabbed eight of them to death.

The brutal killing shocked the nation but there was more to come.

On April 12, a man called Yang killed a child and an adult when he attacked a group of people in front of a primary school in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

On April 28 (the day Zheng was executed for his assault), retired teacher Chen Kangbing stabbed 16 children and a teacher at a primary school in Guangdong province.

On April 29, a 47-year-old jobless man in Jiangsu province slashed 29 children, two teachers and a security guard at a kindergarten.

And on April 30, Wang Yonglai, 45, hit five toddlers with a hammer in Shandong province before setting himself on fire.

Police marksmen also shot dead 24-year-old Wang Yi last week after he took a 5-year-old girl hostage in Beijing and threatened to kill her unless a woman he met online agreed to see him.

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