Very early in my teaching career in the early 1980’s the school where I worked in Sussex was shocked when, one lunchtime, one pupil stabbed another.
It was almost fatal, but not quite. The quick thinking of teaching returned from lunch and who was first on the scene stopped the pupil bleeding out. The perpetrator ran into school and into the block where I happened to be on lunchtime duty.
Fortunately, the police were quickly on the scene and while I kept in contact with, what was thought to be the still armed boy, released a police dog.
As I was between it and the fleeing child for a moment the dog thought about taking me down but with the training and discipline instilled in these animals, on a word of command it ran past me and bit the boy.
Telling this story in the school office later the secretaries asked me what it was like, meaning witnessing the arrest in such dramatic fashion. I, in shock, said ‘well it was about 2 feet high, brown and had a big tail’.
The news this week of two young lives brought to an end, the first permanently the second figuratively reminded me of this incident. Why do young people carry knives?
Knife crime among young people has been on the rise in recent years. Is it false bravado or fear that makes it necessary to carry a weapon?
My school served a middle class area. The attacker had been expelled from a private school. The victim came from a stable and loving home. Not gangs but certainly drugs were involved.
Of course, British schools are largely places of safety and have strong policies in place that emphasise the consequences of carrying weapons into school.
Yet my experience taught me that even in the seemingly most unlikely of circumstances violence can erupt if tempers are lost and weapons are close at hand.
My colleague who was first on the scene left teaching shortly afterward.