LETTERS: School metal detectors are a huge overreaction

I have been on the council's Education Committee for almost four years and in that time I have had a good chance to ask hundreds of parents, young people and teachers about their priorities for schools.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 11th January 2016, 12:51 pm
Updated Monday, 11th January 2016, 12:56 pm

They have told me many things: extra support for children who need it; investment in decent repair and maintenance; clear and accessible information about how children are getting on; recognising the role that parents have in supporting schools. And many others.

Not once has anyone mentioned metal detectors. So the fact that Tory MSP Cameron Buchanan made such a song and dance about metal detectors in schools last week (‘Keep weapons out of schools’, News, January 5), tells us two things.

The first, obviously, is just how utterly out of touch the Tories are as to what is happening in our schools.

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Second, and more darkly however, is the wilful misuse of information to cast a shadow over schools. The Tories want to see metal detectors in schools in response to information that there were 46 reports of young people carrying weapons in Lothian in 2014-15.

However, the information made no reference to schools; for all we know, none of these reports relate to schools. Nevertheless Mr Buchanan immediately leaps on the data as an opportunity to make caustic and ill-informed remarks about school safety.

It is both pathetic and shameful. The Scottish Tories should be embarrassed.

Councillor Melanie Main, Meadows/Morningside, Edinburgh

Compulsory ID cards appear in a new guise

I would normally be fully supportive of any steps taken to encourage youngsters to use our local libraries (‘Primary begins new chapter by enrolling pupils at library’, News, January 4). However, the latest plan to do this by Edinburgh City Council and the Scottish Government leaves me distinctly disturbed.

For this plan is a compulsory one, involving the registration of all primary school pupils and the issue to them of a new type of library card (details unspecified).

Furthermore, we are told that in due course even newly born babies are to be issued with such library cards.

Given the Scottish Government’s enthusiastic espousal of its National Entitlement ID card (NEC) programme, one can only suspect that in due course this library card plan is going to be used to introduce national civil registration and NEC ID cards for all newly born children in Scotland. And it is of note that we have not had such civil registration in the UK for over 60 years. I would, therefore, urge Edinburgh council to row back on this scheme and issue the new library cards to parents on a purely voluntary basis.

This is a perfectly reasonable request, but should they fail to do this, then I would encourage any concerned parents to bypass the scheme and enrol their children for library cards only when and if they wish to.

Dr John Welford , NO2ID Edinburgh, Canonmills

TV ‘shows’ trivialise real political debate

With the prospect of a media frenzy looming over the forthcoming Holyrood elections and the EU referendum, may I make a heartfelt plea to the BBC and ITV to refrain from creating the circuses which have become more and more shallow and frenzied, with audiences more suited to the Jerry Springer show than programmes of a serious nature.

It would be preferable if there were no audiences with questions being texted or e-mailed in. These could then be put on a fair and balanced way to the panels.

Panels, I suggest, should consist of relevant political party members and experts who can provide information to the viewers and be free from so-called celebrities who are there for self-aggrandisement and cheap laughs and who rarely contribute anything of substance to the debate.

This is especially important regarding EU membership, which is an issue of which I am sure the majority have very little knowledge of the ramifications and wish to hear from people who have that information.

I include in my comments the programmes chaired by the Dimbleby brothers, who seem to be more interested in inflating their egos than allowing free and balanced debate in the furtherance of what they and their producers probably call ‘good television’.

Donald Lewis, Gifford, East Lothian

Staying clear of the moral cliff edge

While a widespread public awareness campaign about AIDS in the 1980s was necessary, Margaret Thatcher’s reservations about it were also valid.

Addressing the nation’s youth indiscriminately about the risks entailed in various drug and sexual practices can tend to normalise hitherto alien behaviours.

“Don’t share needles” dilutes the message “don’t take drugs.” “Use a condom” conveys an assumption of sexual activity.

The misguided and ill-named ‘harm reduction’ approach to education on such matters now dominates. Modern education tends to endorse playing right at the edge of the cliff, while urging care not to fall off.

It also tacitly undermines those ‘moralists’ who say it is best to stay behind a line well clear of the cliff edge.

Richard Lucas, Broomyknowe, Colinton, Edinburgh

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