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May 15, 2010

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Schools harden defenses against crazies

LOCAL school and kindergarten security guards will be trained to fend off knife-wielding attackers or kidnappers by the end of June, Shanghai police said yesterday.

All of the city's 2,700-plus kindergartens, elementary and secondary schools will be equipped with defensive tools including police batons and pepper spray by next week, police said.

Gates and cameras already have been installed.

Local education authorities also asked schools to organize drills for break-ins and sudden attacks.

The measures follow a series of fatal assaults with knives or cleavers that have targeted schoolchildren across the country.

Shanghai has seen no such attacks, but police have taken the precaution of strengthening patrols around schools.

The defensive tools began showing up in Changning District yesterday.

"It will be a great help," Jiang Fulong, a Changning kindergarten security guard, told local TV news.

Police officers began training Jiang and his colleagues how to use a specialized baton with a semicircular structure at the top to keep attackers at a distance and to grab them.

Officers also started to teach teachers and students self-defense techniques for emergency situations.

"We will do everything we can to protect students," said Wei Guo, head of a police station in Hongkou District's Quyang area.

More than 20 kindergartens, elementary and secondary schools in the area are under the police station's watch.

"Officers prepare themselves well to handle emergencies," said Wei.

Police officers are asked to reach schools 10 minutes before classes begin and end, according to the Shanghai Public Security Bureau. Conversely, kindergartens and schools must inform police officers of their school times and any changes of timetable.

Since the first of the killings took place on March 23, when a man stabbed eight children to death outside an elementary school in southeastern China, the school safety issue has unnerved Chinese parents, who, under the country's family-planning policy, usually have only one child.

Parents watch children enter schools and wait outside for some time even with police officers present. Those who enter schools to pick up their children must have a pass.


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