Keith Doyle's Column: A Hard Lesson for Us to learn.(Features)

Article excerpt

Byline: Keith Doyle

WHEN you check your child's schoolbag, to see if he or she has remembered their lunch and their runners for PE, do you also check that no flick knife is stuffed in there?

It may sound a bit alarmist, but we may not be that far away from having metal detectors at the entrances to our schools.

Some people have already called for security guards, and this week's knife attack by a pupil at a Dublin school is a worrying watermark for what might lie ahead.

Gardai were called to the national school in Dublin when a sixth class pupil pulled a knife during a row with another boy and stabbed him in the leg.

I know one attack by one pupil does not mean our schools are hotbeds of violent crime, but a quick glance to Britain, Europe and the United States shows that school violence is a very real and a growing problem.

In London, in the area where Damilola Taylor died, a permanent police presence is now kept at about two-dozen schools.

Could that be the next step here - where there is one entrance and exit to schools, closely monitored by police and security guards?

Where pupils have to pass through metal detectors and carry their belongings in see-through bags?

I was genuinely shocked to find a host of companies that supply metal detectors specifically designed for schools.

This is from an advert for the CEIA Classic metal detector for schools: "The Columbine High School shooting in April 1999 leaving 15 dead and 23 wounded, shocked the world. …