YEP Says, August 11: What does attack on Leeds teacher say about society?

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Vincent Uzomah says he has forgiven the teenager who plunged a blade into his stomach.

Vincent Uzomah says he has forgiven the teenager who plunged a blade into his stomach.

It goes some way to reveal the measure of the man.

Mr Uzomah, from Leeds, sat quietly in court yesterday and watched as the 14-year-old who nearly took his life yawned his way through proceedings, showing no sense of regret, indeed, demonstrating no wish for forgiveness whatsoever.

What a truly sickening and, above all, saddening case this is. One that makes any decent person wonder what the heck is happening to our world.

The boy - protected by rules of anonymity - had told a friend the previous day that he planned to stab a teacher, and struck out with a kitchen knife when Mr Uzomah asked him to surrender his mobile phone.

The boy was a known troublemaker; caused regular disruptions in class. Many teachers will have such a pupil. But what sense of bravado, what warped sense of right and wrong, led him to take the knife from his home that day?

There’s no doubt teachers today face huge challenges when it comes to turning out children who are equipped for the modern world. Maintaining discipline in some schools is surely the toughest challenge of all.

The stabbing of Mr Uzomah – hard on the heels of the tragic killing of Leeds teacher Ann Maguire – is an indication that educators no longer simply have to contend with classroom disobedience but must increasingly run the gauntlet of physical violence.

Figures reveal that teachers are the target of hostility and aggression on a regular basis, with an average of 55 assaults carried out by children as young as four in every school day – and the numbers are rising.

The sentence of 11 years’ detention that has been passed on Vincent Uzomah’s attacker sends out a strong message on the seriousness of teacher assaults – one that schools and parents must now drive home. However, as long as popular culture depicts appalling violence as routine, and anti-authoritarian hoodlums as heroes, then it is inevitable that growing numbers of young people will continue to exhibit such extreme behaviour and that calls for airport-style metal detectors to detect knives and guns in our schools will grow louder.