Metal detectors greet Ashkelon students

Police to patrol high schools in anti-violence effort.

metal detector 88 (photo credit: )
metal detector 88
(photo credit: )
Ashkelon pupils passed through metal detectors at entrances to high schools on their first day back in class on Tuesday, as part of a new bid by police, the municipality and parents to curb youth violence in the city. The decision to mobile, on a spot basis, metal detectors at schools was taken by Ashkelon police chief Dep.-Cmdr. Haim Blumenfeld, following violent incidents among youths in the city, including a fight between two teenagers in May in which one was stabbed and seriously wounded. The victim has since made a full recovery. Police say the detector will target students who bring in knives. "We decided to take action and create an atmosphere which sends the message that we do not tolerate violence in our schools," Blumenfeld said. Uniformed police will patrol school grounds, as part of the action plan, while undercover officers will monitor the journey of teenagers to and from school and will look out for fights and acts of vandalism. Ashkelon Traffic Police will seek to crack down on dangerous road conduct by new high school drivers. At the same time, a nonviolence campaign will be launched at Ashkelon high schools to educate youths to stay away from physical confrontations, and students will hear lectures by a range of public figures, including senior police officers. Ashkelon is a member of the City Without Violence program, which seeks to coordinate several authorities in the war on violence in urban centers. Rafi Sa'adon, deputy head of the Ashkelon's Urban Parent Committee, took part in a meeting on Sunday with city police chief Blumenfeld, senior municipal officials, and high school principals over the metal detectors, and explained why he gave his blessing to the initiative. "I asked whether it was right to affect 98 percent of youths in Ashkelon when only 2% are problematic. A school principal told me that if the detector saved one kid's life, it was worth it. "When I heard this, I was convinced. He who saves one life saves the entire world," Sa'adon told The Jerusalem Post. "We asked challenging questions about the detector, and asked whether it constitutes an invasion of privacy. Furthermore, the detector can be bypassed and weapons can be thrown over a school fence. A school is not a sterile zone," Sa'adon said. "The police commander said the detector would have a deterrent effect." "We as parents gave them our backing for this pilot program for a limited period. We will receive a report every two months on levels of violence," Sa'adon said. During a tour of schools conducted by the Urban Parent Committee on Tuesday, Sa'adon encountered the boy who was seriously wounded during a fight with another student in Lag Ba'omer in May. "The youth stood outside the school gate, because he has been expelled for his role in the fight. He held a long letter of apology in his hands and a signed commitment to good behavior. He asked us to intervene on his behalf," Sa'adon said. Together with the teenager's mother, Sa'adon and other members of the committee met with the school principal, and handed over the letter of apology. As a result, the boy was readmitted.