Last week was a really hard week. Initially, it looked bleak b/c I had to work 12 days in a row without a break. But then, last Monday, we heard reports that a man had killed an eight year old girl in a school in Taipei.
Apparently he snuck into the girls bathroom, waited until after school, then sliced her throat and waited for her to die before calling the police and telling them he killed someone.
You can’t imagine the uproar. Taiwan is known for being safe, guns aren’t allowed, and people are nice! People don’t slice little girl’s throats in the middle of the day! I had several conversations with co-teachers and other ETA’s and honestly I felt so angry! Working in a school, it’s like you can see it happening, and it makes me nauseas to think of.
Immediately every school in Taiwan was talking about security. Schools here are stationed 24/7 with guards.
Both of the schools I work at have dogs (both of them are fairly old and I’m not actually sure what security measures they provide but that’s fine). Are the fences high enough? Where are our weak points? Children can not go to the bathroom alone. The volunteer soldier boys will walk around the premises once every couple hours.
The Taichung City Government is going to provide a $50,000 NTD (around $1700 USD) stipend per school so schools can get watch dogs, and feed them and care for them.
This event is horrific in every way, but as a waiguoren it is interesting to see how another country responds to tragedy.
Action to beef up security was instantly taken all over the country. Principals were talking about safety at school assemblies.
I would say I don’t know if any action was taken to address mental health issues, which I think is equally important. There were some fingers pointed, and I’m sure there are things I don’t know about because I’m not fluent in Chinese, but it’s just so different from how America reacts to violence in schools. A person with serious mental health issues shoots up Sandy Hook and yet years later there are still shootings in schools and it still isn’t safe? It’s honestly ridiculous.
How are we addressing safety issues in our schools? How are we addressing mental health issues? It’s unfathomable to me that American hasn’t “learned our lesson.” Looks like we could take a few tips from Taiwan.