School attacks raise questions about security

10:55, April 30, 2010      

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Two school stabbings in China within 24 hours left dozens of children injured and underscored the necessity for authorities to beef up campus security.

Twenty-nine children and three adults were injured when a man armed with knife attacked them at a kindergarten in a city in east China Thursday morning.

Five of the children were seriously injured and two are in a critical condition after the attack at Zhongxin Kindergarten in Taixing City, in east China's Jiangsu Province. All the injured children are 4 or 5 years old.

The 47-year-old attacker, Xu Yuyuan, has been detained by police.

Xu broke into the kindergarten's No.2 Classroom wielding a 20 cm long knife after two teachers and a security guard tried to stop him entering but failed.

Xinhua reporters met one of the injured, a 5-year-old girl named Zhao Yi, in a ward in Taixing No. 3 People's Hospital. She had two wounds on the back of her neck.

"Each wound is 10 cm long," said Zhao's grandmother as she comforted the little girl.

The woman said she heard that a milkman hit the attacker with a mop stick on the head, which led to the man's capture.

Xinhua reporters saw the broken mop stick at the crime scene.

They also saw another victim of the attack, a boy, who was slashed on the back of the head. His grandmother said his two wounds were 16 cm long each.

Hu Yafeng, a salesman in the Hainaxingdi Supermarket near the kindergarten, said he and four others including police, alerted by locals, apprehended the attacker.

Initial police investigations found Xu an unemployed local man. He had been a salesman in a local insurance company until he was fired in 2001. Since then, he has remained jobless, and taken part in some pyramid schemes.

"Xu looked normal this morning. He talked with people in a natural manner," said Xu's tenant who had talked with him hours before the attack. He asked to remain anonymous.

This was the second knife attack on children in China in two days. The motives of the attacks remained unknown.

Another man attacked 16 pupils and one teacher with a knife at a primary school in Leizhou City, south China's Guangdong Province Wednesday afternoon.

The pupils, including five children seriously injured in the attack, were in stable condition at the Leizhou City People's Hospital, said Mo Dechun, head of the hospital's surgical department.

Police had detained the attacker Chen Kangbing, an art teacher, who was diagnosed as suffering from severe neurosis in 2008. He was undergoing an assessment on his mental state.

He sneaked into the campus with a crowd of teachers from different schools to attend an "open class" where they would observe teaching methods at the school, said Chen Riwen, a spokesman with the provincial education department.

"More than 1,000 people flocked into the school at that time. It was very difficult for us to check them one by one. Chen was neatly-dressed, so we didn't notice him," said Chen Haoyu, a senior administrator with the school.

Experts, parents and netizens, who were indignant about the rampages, also expressed their concerns over the campus security system in China.

The government should really work hard to safeguard the lives of the children, who represent the future of our country, netizen "The world's Temple of Heaven" said in a posting on QQ, one of the most popular websites in China.

"My daughter and me are very nervous now. We hope the school can make stricter rules to keep the 'dangerous man' away from our kids," said a woman surnamed Cai, whose daughter was a first grader at Leicheng First Primary School.

Some loopholes in the campus security management could easily provide a chance for such extreme violence, said Zeng Ling, a senior lawyer with the Qinxian Lawyer's Office based in Xiamen, east China's Fujian Province.

Many of China's primary and middle schools, as well as kindergartens, were not equipped with surveillance cameras and other professional security facilities, Zeng said.

"The schools should hire full-time security guards, and equip them with non-lethal weapons, such as the electronic stun gun," said Mo Zhixu, a famous news commentator when interviewed by, a video website.

Some other experts suggested to draft a campus security plan, which requiring police forces to patrol around schools and kindergartens everyday.

"Schools and kindergartens must take actions immediately to prevent similar tragedies from happening," said another netizen "Shajizi".

At the same time, the government should also shoulder the responsibility to provide more skill training courses and psychological assistance and for the unemployed and those suffering from mental problems, said Zhang Changrong, a professor with Fujian Provincial Police Academy.

"Such measures could, to some degree, prevent such vulnerable group' from resorting to hurting others to break out of the 'tortures'," Zhang said.



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