Schools, colleges and Universities all over the world have been the scenes of multiple shootings in recent years.
On l3th March 1996 Thomas Hamilton, a licensed handgun owner, shot dead l6 children and their teacher at Dunblane Primary School, Scotland. Hamilton also injured another 12 children and two teachers before shooting himself. This tragedy led to handguns being banned in the UK.
There continue to be regular multiple gun massacres in schools, colleges and on university campuses in other countries of the world, particularly the United States.
Combined Cadet Forces
In view of the increasing number of school shootings which invariably involve young students we are concerned about the current policy of introducing school children to guns in 500 state schools in the UK through the Combined Cadet Force.
We share public concern regarding the recruitment of children to carry and conceal guns for gangmembers, and the recruitment of 'child soldiers' in conflicts.
We believe that actively encouraging school children to develop an interest in weapons by offering opportunities to handle and use guns within schools is sending out mixed messages to children regarding guns. This is particularly inappropriate and potentially dangerous at a time when there are serious concerns about the radicalisation of young people into extremism.
Children who wish to consider a military career are free to pursue their interests outside the school where groups exist to provide appropriate training to young people.
In a study published in 2012 psychologist Sarah Neuhäuser registered an increase in the incidence of threats to use firearms in schools since the last serious shooting spree by a student in the German town of Winnenden. The researcher counted 2,600 officially registered threats between 2006 and 2010.
School officials see an urgent need for action - not only to counter those who fully intend to carry out such a shooting spree, but also address potential copycats.
Support for stressed students
The state of Baden-Württemberg - where the Winnenden shooting took place - is for example drafting a plan for more intensive student support and counseling. The number of psychologists at schools in the state should double in the next three years to a total of 200.
Other states hope to create new violence-prevention positions for school counselors and social workers. State education ministers are seeking the necessary funding, despite the rather tight budgetary situation.
Schools, not fortresses
This approach - of addressing potential perpetrators within the schools while coming to grips with the causes of violence - seems to be working.
After the school shootings in Erfurt, Emsdetten and Winnenden, a number of politicians supported the idea of using a wide-range of security technology in schools. A Bundestag committee discussed screening students for weapons as they entered the schools. But currently, there are no metal detector gates at any German schools. A proposal requiring German school students to carry chip cards to get on campus also failed to win support.