The photos on social media is any parent’s worst nightmare. The attacks came in broad daylight. Eyewitness reported to RaajjeMV that a group of four individuals had barged into Thaajudheen school, with two attacking a uniformed student with a sharp object. The second attack came when a student of Dharumavantha school was walking from school after the session ended.
Schools in Capital Male’ City are relatively safe areas; the only reported cases are minor scuffles, usually between students.
However, the two attacks, spaced over a period of 36 hours, marks a dramatic shift in the observed instances.
Both attacks occurred around the vicinity of students. The two victims were both treated, with one released after treatment. Maldives Police Service (MPS) reported that the two cases were being investigated as serious crimes.
Assault and crimes against children are not a new feature in the Maldives. Crimes against children carried out in places that are supposed to be a safe haven so that their minds are nourished. Crimes against children that are carried out under the eyes of people who are responsible for their safety and wellbeing.
Given the severity of the issues and the criminal nature of the actions, the two cases must be fully and thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions.
Concurrently, the authorities must also focus on ensuring that actions of this nature are prevented and proper support is given in the event attacks of this nature occur.
In the 36 hours between the first attack and the second attack, the Ministry of Education is yet to respond to the heightened fears of parents. The absence of information on what authorities are doing, is hardly likely to allay fears of concerned parents.
Apart from reporting that the cases are being investigated, MPS had also failed to address on whether there were any security measures and if there were any improvements on the current security measures.
Preventing such attacks and mitigating the loss from these attacks are paramount. While the such incidents had not reached the extent of attacks seen in United States of America, there are still factors we have to address.
Firstly, we have to understand the underlying reasons for such attacks and address them. For this, authorities have to take the matter as a serious one, investigate, address underlying issues and take pre-emptive action.
Secondly, we, as individuals, have to step out of our comfort zones and take direct action in preventing such crimes.
Thirdly, assistance has to be provided to victims and who had witnesses such attacks. Post-traumatic stress disorder and related psychological issues are real things that have to be addressed with proper therapy.
Fourthly, schools must take initiative in strengthening security measure. This includes educating children and staff on how to defend themselves and fellow students and faculty.
Given that almost all students spend better part of their day in schools, all measures must be taken to ensure that schools are safe and protected environments. While we as a nation continue becoming deeply entrenched in political strife, safety and security of schools should not become a politicized issue. Safety and security of students and schools must be paramount.