YEP Says, April 29: School tragedy puts knife menace back under the spotlight

A pupil outside Corpus Christi Catholic College where teacher Anne Maguire was stabbed to death.
A pupil outside Corpus Christi Catholic College where teacher Anne Maguire was stabbed to death.
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Death of well-liked teacher has shocked entire city.

WHEN police officers or firefighters go to work they do so knowing there is a chance their lives will be put at risk during the course of their duties.

Teacher Anne Maguire, however, was merely preoccupied with giving her pupils the best possible start in life.

It is why yesterday’s incident at Corpus Christi Catholic College, which saw the Spanish and RE teacher stabbed to death, is so profoundly shocking.

And the more details that emerge, the more shocking it becomes.

The 61-year-old received multiple knife wounds in view of students. She was treated by paramedics, but later died in hospital. A 15-year-old male pupil was subsequently arrested and is now in custody.

Well-known and extremely well-liked, pupils paid heartfelt tribute to their teacher yesterday afternoon as others arrived to lay flowers at the school gates.

“I don’t know anyone who didn’t like her,” said one. “You couldn’t ask for a better teacher.”

While thoughts are with Mrs Maguire’s family at this terrible time, it’s important to recognise that such incidents are extremely rare.

But at the same time it must also be acknowledged that there is a growing problem with young people carrying weapons – and many take them with them when they go to school.

Across the country there have been almost 1,000 incidents over the last three years of youngsters being caught with deadly weapons in class.

There will be talk of installing metal detectors in every school – as is the case in America – but that won’t solve the problem. Because this is not just an issue for schools, it is one that the whole of society must tackle.

Many youngsters say they carry weapons for their own protection because they fear they will be attacked.

But often this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. The more children that carry weapons, the bigger the threat to them and others.

As the investigation into the stabbing gets under way in earnest, it is important that efforts by schools, police and other agencies to educate both children and parents about the dangers of carrying a weapon are redoubled.

These must be backed with tough and immediate sanctions against any young person found in possession of one – whether it be in school or on the street.

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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