Word has come out that a man who injured three students in a knife attack at a Tokyo primary school last month had likely previously entered the school. It is not confirmed that these two incidents involve the same man, but witnesses of the first incident do believe this to be the case.
The man originally entered the school to complain about noise from children practicing for an athletic meet and eventually left at the request of school staff. Although an email alert system was instituted in 2011 to contact parents about an incidence such as this, the school decided that this man was not dangerous enough for that treatment and only alerted the Nerima Ward Board of Education.
Some parents are outraged as the man was apparently mumbling to himself as he left the school and shouted such phrases as “Children will be murdered.”
In my eyes, (and I would like to think most other people’s) that phrase alone merits a serious reaction from the school. Although it may have been seemed unlikely to the school that this man would ever return to attack students, it is best to play it safe and take threats such as these seriously when schools are involved. Obviously, I was not present for the incident, and hindsight is 20-20, but it doesn’t get much worse than “children will be murdered.”
Instituting the email alert system for parents was a positive first step to safety for these primary school children, but this measure alone failed to prevent the attack. Safety measures will need to be increased at this school, and schools across Japan should use this scary incident as an opportunity to discuss improvements for child safety.
However, while it is extremely disturbing that a man such as this could enter a school so freely and harm young children, we must remember that instances such as these are rare and make sure not to overreact. Cameras and alert systems are good ideas, but precautions seen in other countries such as security guards and metal detectors seem like overkill to me.