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article imageMetal Detectors In UK Schools But Are Teachers Ready For A Lesson In Responsibility?

By Michelle Duffy     Jan 21, 2008 in Politics
As a part of a new UK government crack down on knife crime in British schools, calls have been made for airport style metal detectors to be installed, searching children as they come into the school grounds each day
Despite the 2006 ruling allowing school teachers and staff to search children on school premises if they were suspected with carrying a knife, attacks in British schools are rising so a handful of head teachers have radically brought in metal detectors to cut down on stabbings in their areas. So far, it has worked, yet many head teachers wish for other methods to be looked at first before we set up the airport style of searching pupils.
This call for serious change has come in the light of the government's expected new plan on tackling the rise in violent behaviour, issued by the Home Office sometime next month.
However, even though the thought of installing metal detectors doesn't seem such a bad idea, Head Teachers have noted that there are a number of schools who will not "take advantage" of the scheme, in the fear that their school will become labelled as violent.
Speaking to the Andrew Marr show on BBC One, the current Home Secretary in the UK, Ms Jacqui Smith said of the new plan,
"I think that it's a good idea if we look at the ways in which in some schools it might be appropriate to use search arches - because I want young people to know that it doesn't make them safer to carry a knife. It actually makes them more likely to be a victim."
Yet some schools are adamant that metal detectors are the only way forward. Speaking on behalf of the Association of School and College Leaders was John Dunford who speaks strongly about the plan to bring in the detectors on a wider scale. he told BBC News Website,
"There are schools serving areas where knife crime is high in the community and it's right that these schools take measures to protect pupils."
The lead up to the call for detectors has become more poignant since the tragic death of an innocent father of two who was attacked by a gang of drunken teenagers. The murder of Mr Garry Newlove has also called for stricter guidelines on teenage drinking.
In the wake of this, the Home Secretary has also started looking at the way advertising with relation to alcohol has swayed children into drinking over the years. It is possible that if certain advertisements are banned, binge drinking related crime may decrease.
However, this alone will not stop children bringing knives in our schools. Surely we should be looking at the reasons WHY children carry knives. Fear? If they are frightened by other children then it is this, that we need to look at, not simply spending money to bring in detectors. It could be a waste of money, and simply a way of papering over the cracks, yet the detectors are being called for and the sooner the better according to some MP's.
Speaking for the opposition was David Davis, current Shadow Home Secretary for the conservatives, who said that such measures should have been put in place in UK schools a long time ago. He said,
"The powers have existed for some time and we have been calling for this for some time. However, while there are hundreds of scanners there are thousands of schools.
We hope that - for a change - this initiative actually makes it beyond the front page."
The Lib Dems have also reluctantly given their backing for the detectors to be installed. They have said that despite the call for such things is a "sad" day in the country's education system, we do have a responsibility to protect our children from knives and related crimes.
Yet this will not be enough to encourage all schools in the UK. Some are still holding back saying that it is the job of the police to step in and search rather than teachers themselves, so we ask, as parents, when will teachers take the duty to look after our children seriously?
In the UK, National Union of Teachers said that although the idea was positive, it should only be offered to schools who have a problem with knife violence.
John Bangs said on behalf of the NUT,
"It should be part of the armoury of keeping schools secure, when the head is worried about gangs outside."
One very valid point has been raised by Margaret Morrissey, of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, she said that she was concerned for the safety of those teachers responsible for taking away the knives from violent children. The police are at least trained and armed when dealing with such situations, but teachers are just teachers, with no other skills designed to confront badly behaved children. Should then this be a call for teachers to be skilled in dealing with violence as well as being able to teach?
Surely this point is more valid in today's society, particularly in schools, and not just in the UK but abroad. If metal detectors really are the way forward, or at least one, which we can only see right now, surely it's time to change the way with educate our teachers...
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