While U.S. and European schools have been haunted by repeated school shootings in the past decade, it seems like a rash of violent attacks is continuing to plague schools around China in recent months. The latest in a series of attacks on Chinese schoolchildren occurred on Tuesday morning in Shaanxi Province’s rural Nanzheng County. Seven children and a teacher were hacked to death and at least 20 children were wounded in an attack on a kindergarten, reports Xinhua. The attacker later killed himself, police officials reported. No further details of the incident have been given so far.
This attack is the fifth such one against school children in less than two months. In April, a hammer-wielding man set himself on fire after injuring five children and a teacher in Shandong province. In Guangdong Province, a teacher stabbed and wounded 16 students and a teacher with a knife at a primary school. In March, eight children were stabbed to death in Fujian Province by a man suspected of having mental health problems.
Beijing has called for “fast action” to strengthen security for schools, requiring all schools and educational authorities to take steps to prevent further incidents. Early this month, China’s Ministry of Public Security sent 18 teams to different areas of the country to supervise boosting security measures around local schools and kindergartens. Chongqing is spending RMB1.2 billion, the equivalent of almost half of the city’s 2010 public security budget, on campus security. The city will be deploying over 6,000 police officers and stationing 50,000 security guards around nurseries, middle and primary schools. The WSJ reported that police even provided nearly 100 schools in Beijing’s Xicheng district with large steel “forks” that could be used to fend off potential attackers.
Personally, we’re not sure how effective equipping kindergartners with steel forks will be. How about delving into the root causes of these attacks? Some experts are saying that the rapid social changes China has undergone in the past decade has caused serious stresses that may be causing people to lash out in these attacks. Psychologists have said that changes in Chinese society that include mass migrations, a weakening of traditions, and increasing disparity in wealth have unsettled people and created tension. In addition, a number of these school attacks were perpetrated by suspects who were mentally ill. Regular mental checkups, treatment and monitoring of people could prevent more attacks, say experts.