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Sweden debates school safety after US massacre

Published: 16 Dec 2012 12:40 GMT+01:00

There are currently no such guidelines in place.

"I know there have been discussions about whether or not our schools are too open," said Per-Arne Andersson, department head at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges Kommuner och Landsting).

Andersson said the issue may now be raised again.

In 2009, the Swedish National Agency for Education (Skolverket) published material which included lessons learnt from recent school shootings in neighbouring Finland.

But so far the authorities have not considered it necessary to draft special guidelines for security and crisis management at schools.

Education Minister Jan Björklund believes each municipality should take responsibility for their schools, as is currently the case.

"My understanding is that each municipality has crisis plans for these kinds of events," he said.

"When it comes to preventative work on the other hand I see a need for constant improvement."

When a 16-year-old boy was shot to death at the Bromma gymnasium high school in 2001, Björklund, then the Stockholm Schools Commissioner, launched an inquiry which concluded that it would be inappropriate to install metal detectors and surveillance cameras in Swedish schools.

However, many Stockholm schools independently decided to start keeping visitor registers and to keep doors locked.

In Gothenburg there have been drills for potential school shooting scenarios. Entrances and emergency exits in the city's schools have been mapped out, said the city's education director, Sven Höpner.

Swedish police are taking special measures after the Connecticut tragedy.

"Of course we are intensifying our surveillance online after an event like this," Stefan Marcopoulo, a National Bureau of Investigation (Rikskriminalpolisen) spokesman told Sveriges Radio (SR). He declined to go into detail about the police's work, however.

Swedish Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, has sent a letter of condolence to the U.S. government and issued a statement saying that Sweden is mourning with all those who lost children and friends in Newtown.

"The losses are unfathomable and the sorrow is great," said Reinfeldt.

"Together we will protect our open society and try to prevent this from happening again."

The gunman in Newtown, Connecticut allegedly shot his mother in her home before killing 20 pupils and six adults at a nearby elementary school. He then turned the weapon on himself.

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Your comments about this article

14:50 December 16, 2012 by vceball
I am an American now living in Sweden who has made her living as a babysitter since I've arrived in August of this year. I was stunned at how easily I was able to pick up children with no questions from their respective schools/staff and take them out of the building. On a few occasions, I was able to take children home from schools that I have never even been to without being asked to show an ID or even my name.

Yes, the children recognized me and yes, after a while the children's teachers were able to recognize me but I do not think that these two "safety guards" are enough. I would be more than happy to sign the children I babysit out of fritids everyday.

It is possible that this is simply a matter of logistics, but I have yet to visit a school where there was a check-in point I had to go through in order to reach the children of the school. I am not suggesting metal detectors or x-ray machines, but just a place where a record of those who visit the schools is kept and can be referred to for any reason.

But, to be frank, these are all measures that we have at most schools in America and look what happened.
16:26 December 16, 2012 by Migga
Having a reception desk at schools and day care centers is a good idea to keep track on the people going in and out of the place. But I think the big issue in the USA is the lack of gun control.
16:56 December 16, 2012 by eppie
@vceball

I am glad you came to the right conclusion at the end of your comment.

Prevention is much more important than trying to take crazy measures.

And with prevention I mean being carefull with how you regulate weapons, and spend much time and money helping mentally ill people.
18:15 December 16, 2012 by martin8558
I agree but you can compare Sweden to America I am also American I was shock to see so much freedom for kids here staying out all night etc I think there are a lot of laws different here and gun control is one of them there are more guns out in the street then here were as health care here is better mental cares is much more accessible
18:48 December 16, 2012 by trumanshow
I don't think you can compare Sweden and the USA. I dont exaggerate when I say that there have been more than 100 instances in the last 50 years when someone has run amok with a gun in the states. There is a totally different social mentality in the United States - and I don't mean to be an 'america basher' because there are so many good things that come from that country. Scrolling through a New York newspaper comments section it seems that many people feel that liberal education is to blame. I can't imagine you could find 5 people in the whole European continent that would equate a liberal education with going nuts with a gun in a school. Sweden might be an innocent possibly naeve place but I think that the idea of prevention rather than cure is working. There is very little you can do about the odd individual going mad. You can only try and create a better society...and creating a climate of fear and suspicion will never, ever help matters.
19:48 December 16, 2012 by dizzymoe33
The guns were legally registered and obtained by the gunman's mother. Once she was killed then we went and got the guns. There is no kind of prevention that can be done was this happens. If we regulate gun control even more than what we have here in the States then we will end up with the criminals having all the weapons and the good people having none. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. No amount of regulation is going to change that. I just hope that as a World we can come together and find some positive solutions.

The bottom line is the gunman was a coward and took the cowards way out.
20:51 December 16, 2012 by eppie
@dizzymoe

You don't really understand a lot.

I don't know who coined the saying about guns don't kill people but its stupid, I don't think this killer would have managed strangling 26 people to death.

The gunman wasn't a coward....the gunman was completely insane; things liks cowardness or braveness or reason don't come into play with the completely insane.

I rather live in a society that tries to prevent these things by having a good system to support people with mental illness or people that are suicidal than a society that things everything can be solved by legal guns.

In connecticut guns were legal, but somehow it didn't really help a lot to save these children did it?
23:06 December 16, 2012 by Smartone
Simple solution, shut all the weapons factories, don't develop any gun or bullets and let the world live in peace and harmony!
23:43 December 16, 2012 by Svensksmith
And to eliminate rape, let's chop off all penises. Starting with yours.
00:46 December 17, 2012 by Fernandis
Sweden is not like USA where ppl have no home/shelter, no income protection, no health system, poor are becoming poorest and rich are becoming more richer, educational system for rich ppl is separate than those who can't afford, no money for poor students to go to university, etc.

THANKS TO sweden's equality and high tax system which feeds each and everyone (those who work or don't work), and as a result ppl enjoy freedom, no fear.

THERE IS NO THREAT TO SWEDEN! But if sweden followed American way of life-style, then things can/will happen here too and ppl'll regret then.
00:57 December 17, 2012 by Enjoyourlife
I think increasing security in schools here would be a good idea. The first dagis my daughter attended was not secured at all. Anyone can get in at any time. It is a bit scaring. But the present dagis is good. It has a security code. Only those with kids can get in. Gun control is still the best option.
03:28 December 17, 2012 by Will1
there are two levels to gun control:

1. guns should be legal and every sane person should be able to own and carry a gun if he/she so chooses

making guns illegal is just going to encourage the black market and people that want a gun are always going to be able to get it regardless of how its regulated, the point is to enable law abiding citizens the ability to have a gun

2. proper regulation needs to be in place and strict checks conducted before anyone is authorised to own or carry a gun

- there should be a compulsory psychologycal exam

- the person should go through training to be able to properly handle the gun he wants to own and to be able to accurately use it, if you don't know how to safely handle a gun and don't know how to shoot it straigh you should not be allowed to own a gun

- there should also be full background checks

- the person should also have a secure place to store the weapon when not being carried or used, so that it can't be stolen or misused by someone in the absence of the owner

- the bottom line is everyone should have a right to carry a concealed weapon, BUT there need to be strick regulations in place to prevent anyone unstable from getting anywhere close to a gun, it wont solve all the problems but it will limit the number of news stories reading 'insane person shot up a school, cinema..etc'

- There should also be widely available public shooting ranges, where a member of the public can go rent a gun, a shooting lane, and do some target shooting after a brief safety intro; I hate that there are virtually no shooting ranges like this in Sweden.
07:55 December 17, 2012 by RobinHood
US style security in Swedish schools is not necessary.

It is not necessary because Sweden has a fairly good health service for the mentally ill. It is not necessary because access to firearms is limited, access to automatic assault rifles is almost impossible, and people who are allowed firearms must store them in a secure place.

The combination of these measures means the number of assaults with a firearm on a Swedish school stands at …….. zero.
08:06 December 17, 2012 by Shaky
@Will1

It's this sort of thinking that has lead to all the gun crime in the US.

People shouldn't need guns, full stop!

Other countries manage very well without it's citizens having to arm themselves.

The more guns there are out there, the more people will be killed.

There's no debate about this!
09:35 December 17, 2012 by Zombie
Gun Control is what the US need.

Until that happens, we will have massacres every year.
10:28 December 17, 2012 by engagebrain
Guns should be restricted to the very limited group of people who require them for their work and even then there should be regular and strict controls and checks on how weapons are stored and the mental state of the owner.

America is so paranoid that poster like Will1 can argue that the solution is to arm everyone, and still be regarded as sane. The American debate about freedom somehow centres on gun ownership while at the same time restricts womens right to control their own bodies.

Guns exist to scare, intimidate and kill and have no place in functional society.
13:47 December 17, 2012 by smilingjack
the USA is a country that has been at war with someone since 1775. Its entire economy revolves around slave labour. Always has always will. There are 47 million living under the poverty line.

There are multi millions of poor white trash in the USA that have been brainwashed into the christian mentatlity and the god and country rubbish. Millions whos only education is how to kill and now they find themselves back in the USA. Uneducated, poor and homeless surrounded by multi millions of nutters also armed to the teeth and people wonder why this is happenig. Its only when you get 4 or more murders in one go it even makes the news anymore. The USA is a war zone where 2.5 million people are in jail and the same number recently released. where the correction system is about to be entirely privatised. With those measures in place crime is still spiralling out of control and the poor are getting poorer.

Id say you will be seeing a civil war there soon enough.

you can have a gun at 16. can go and murder as many people as you can in another country at age 17. cant drink alcohol until 21 and cant smoke pot at all.

what a country. they deserve all the pain they get . How anyone can think its a great place is beyond me.
20:13 December 17, 2012 by John D.
The phrase "Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People" is ridiculous.

If you agree with that than you agree that Bombs, Grenades and Missile launchers don't kill people either.

Yet, they are banned in the U.S.

I know the second amendment allows the right to bear arms.

And organize a militia to fight off the british.

When the constittion was written there were no auotmatic weapons.

I think we are good nowadays. We have now a military and a police force.

Automatic weapons should be banned in the U.S. with the exception of Police and military.

If they were eventually it would be harder for the criminals to get them also.

It is a billion $ business in the states though. Too many in circulation.

And far too many problems.
18:57 December 21, 2012 by tadchem
Prevention is best, but it sometimes fails. When that happens you need to be prepared to respond.

China has no guns available but has several attacks each year on school children by homicidal sociopaths - with knives, axes, hammers, cleavers, etc.

The deadliest school attack in the US killed 77 children - in 1927 - without a single gun.

Mass assaults with guns usually happen in 'gun-free zones' - Anders Behring Breivik for example.

In Israel, where schoolteachers are often Israeli Army Reservists and required to keep their weapons in arm's reach at all times, the schools do not get attacked. Anti-Israeli terrorists prefer to attack the school buses with children and not teachers.

Fully automatic weapons are already strictly licensed by the US Government even police departments have trouble getting them. Semi-automatic weapons are not so tightly controlled. (John D: If you don't know the difference then you need to learn the difference before you speak up again.)

The problem is not the guns and it is not the society. It is the crazy people.

You need prevention AND preparedness.

The only thing that will stop a madman with a gun is a sane, trained man with a gun.
09:24 December 22, 2012 by gofojo
And indeed, America has enough trained professionals with guns. What the problem is, is the amount of insane people without training, with access to guns.

I wonder, if in 1927, there were also economic conditions that led to a grudged society, and I wonder, if they had access to guns like they do now - would it have been differrent then?

20 million children currently live beneath the poverty level in the US. 12 million people in the UK also currently recieve foodstamps. But the UK dont have a gun problem because you just cant easily get guns or bullets.

Another good point to think about, is teachers and learning instuitions with guns around surely leads to the normalisation of "killing tools" into a childs life. Israel, has proven itself to be a very agressive democratic country in the past 10 to 15 years. Sweden is not. America, well, you have been.

Even Rupert Murdoch tried to bankroll General Patreaus for the last election as a Republican Nominee in very clear recordings broadcast through American newsoutlets (and largely ignored - but see the Guardian in the UK for more info on this). Having a general as an American president is also slightly agressive. Thankfully Patreaus wouldnt do it for fear of losing his wife. Some sanity still prevails!

Finally, I think we all want the same thing for our children. But guns are not the answer and unfortunately once the genie is out of the bottle like it is in the US with a lack of gun control - then these problems are evident. Australia clamped down on guns 20 years back - and they dont have the same problems although they are economically OK these days.

I dont have a soluition. But gun control has been proven in many, many instance to help provide a saner, safer environment for a discussion to occur than not.
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