COMMENT: Call for metal detectors is an overreaction

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INCIDENTS of serious violence in our schools are thankfully very rare indeed, but it can be a real worry for parents.

The revelation that 46 young people had dangerous weapons taken from them in 2014-15, ranging from knives to a crowbar, is proof that a potential threat exists.

Every parent with a child at school would have been shocked and concerned over the death of 16-year-old Bailey Gwynne last year, who was stabbed while at school in Aberdeen and died in hospital shortly afterwards.

So Cameron Buchanan’s call for metal detectors for schools to prevent dangerous weapons getting inside will strike a chord with many parents. It is, after all, only natural that every parent wants schools to be as safe as they can possibly be, and of course education authorities will want the same. Teachers who perhaps also feel threatened might back such a move.

But here are good reasons why that should not be done.

The first is to point out that we don’t actually know how many of these weapons were in or near a school. It seems odd to concentrate on schools given that is the case.

And secondly, there is a drop in these offences from the previous year, albeit not a huge one.

But far more importantly is what it turns our schools into, and the effect that might have on the 
important role they play.

Schools have to be places where people want to go, learning has to be seen as positive and aspirational. There are many reasons already why it is all too easy for youngsters to find schools as difficult places. Seeing them turned in to forbidding fortresses would add massively to that.

The carrying of weapons by children does need to be guarded against, and educating youngsters, appealing to parents and encouraging vigilance among teaching staff are all elements that can make a difference. But metal detectors on the doors of all our schools would be an overreaction.