EDITOR'S CHAIR: One terrible act must not turn our schools into prisons and our children into suspects
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLEFACE PIXELATED BY PA PICTURE DESKUndated handout photo of Anne Maguire who was named locally as the teacher who was stabbed to death at Corpus Christi Catholic College in Leeds. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 28
THE killing of a popular teacher in a Leeds classroom this week is a terrible incident that has quite rightly been widely condemned.
Ann Maguire was stabbed to death at Corpus Christi Catholic College, where she had worked for the entirety of her 40-year teaching career.
A 15-year-old boy arrested at the scene was charged with her murder last night and was due to appear in court today.
Mrs Maguire's death is an awful tragedy.
But there must be no knee-jerk reaction to her death.
Within hours of Mr Maguire's death, some people were calling for the mandatory use of metal detectors to scan children as they arrive at their schools.
This must not happen.
The Leeds tragedy was a killing that came out of the blue and could not have been foreseen.One senseless, random, violent act should not turn our schools into prisons and our children into suspects.
The reaction of the Leeds school and its pupils to Mrs Maguire's death was an example to us all.
Some incidents of violence at schools have led to substantial changes in the law.
The Dunblane shootings in 1996 led to improved security at the majority of schools, including door entry systems. This was a measured response to a massacre that ensured that schools did not become anti-visitor.
In most places, schools are at the heart of the communities they serve. It is understandable there need to be some security measures, particularly in areas of high crime.
But schools should not become no-go areas for visitors or places where pupils are subjected to airport-style security.
There needs to be a calm response to Mrs Maguire's death, terrible as it is.
In the days immediately after her death, the vast majority of pupils at the Leeds school were in attendance. That's because school, quite rightly, is where children feel at their safest and most comfortable with other pupils and their teachers.
It was the obvious place for people to gather and pay their respects to Mrs Maguire and we must never reach a situation where that changes.
- One question I have been asked in the aftermath of the Leeds tragedy is whether the Argus would have named the 15-year-old suspect if, God forbid, the stabbing had happened in Gwent.
I had to think long and hard about my answer.
Despite many national newspapers and television stations saying they are not naming the schoolboy 'for legal reasons', publishing his name is actually lawful.
Juveniles only receive legal anonymity once youth court proceedings begin, but these restrictions do not apply before then.
So far only The Sun has named the boy. On balance, I would not do the same.
There may be no legal reason not to name him but there are plenty of ethical reasons.
We have no real knowledge of this child's mental state or of what caused him to act as it is alleged he did.
He also has a family who could be put at risk by the teenager's name being plastered all over the place.
If the 15-year-old is eventually convicted of murder then I would take the view that - as in the case of, for example, the killers of James Bulger - he should be named. But not before then.
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