Britain’s Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, is considering the possibility of placing metal detectors in schools in an effort to halt the presence of knives. More than three fourths of knife crimes are found to occur in the age bracket of 12-20. She is responding to pressure from Head Teachers who believe violence is rising in their schools. According to Chris Huhne, a Liberal Democrat spokesperson, “it is sad schol lscanneers are necessary to stop a small minority of young people from carrying knives. But the number of high-profile stabbings at or outside schools in hot-spot areas for gangs means this is a senisble precaution.”
No student or teacher should fear walking into a school expecting something might occur that threatens their safety. Unfortunately, the American experience is somewhat confusing. A study of killings reveals the vast majority happen in rural or suburban schools which are considered safe places and it is unusual for shootings to occur in urban schools. This has been true even before the installation of metal detectors in urban environments. The issue of school bullying frequently is a trigger that sets off violent behavior. The issue of students feeling neglected or unsuccessful in school work is also a factor. It might pay to focus on the school bullying factor as key to reducing violence in school.