BEIJING - From detailed action plans involving pepper spray to high-level emergency circulars, Chinese authorities are strengthening security checks and implementing measures to prevent assaults at schools and kindergartens in the wake of a string of violent attacks.
In just over a month, four incidents of knife-wielding men in four different provinces killed eight children and injured at least 52 others. Minister of Education Yuan Guiren singled out "lawless people" as the chief reason behind the recent attacks.
To prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future, the Ministry of Public Security said on Saturday that all necessary measures should be taken against school attackers to stop a crime in progress.
Police must also work with education authorities to comprehensively screen all campuses and their surrounding areas for security risks, the ministry said.
Small hotels, Internet cafes and recreational sites adjacent to schools must be subjected to intensive security checks.
The ministry also ordered security patrols be increased in and around campuses at the beginning and end of school days, as well as in schools situated in high-risk communities, where police patrols are to be set up.
Schools were also urged to tighten identity checks at school gates, hire security guards, install security alarms and closed circuit television cameras on campus.
The ministry asked the police to closely monitor people who were inclined to threaten public security and to increase their monitoring of dangerous items and materials, including knives.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Education also set up a special task force involving 22 university and government experts.
In addition to investigating public incidents in the education system, the task force will explore new ways to provide emergency management for China's 270 million students, according to Vice-Minister of Education Hao Ping, who described it as "a heavy task".
At the local level, education and police authorities have responded to the calls and fleshed out action plans, which immediately take effect.
More professional security guards will be hired and equipped with non-lethal weapons, such as police batons, tear gas and pepper spray in Jiangsu and Jiangxi provinces' campus, China News Agency reported on Sunday.
Meanwhile, schools in Anhui province's capital Hefei city will be installing surveillance cameras.
In other northwestern and northeastern provinces, there is to be an increase in the number and presence of security guards stationed at schools.
Li Juan, director of the psychology institute at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the three back-to-back attacks in a single week might be the result of copycat behavior, which enables disenfranchised individuals to attract attention by preying on an easy target like children.