Society was not ready for Viljandi tragedy, say politicians (3)
On ETV's “Foorum” program, politicians from the four major political parties weighed in on the security situation in Estonian schools, saying that although schools are prepared for events such as the one on October 27, more prevention work must be done.
“We mus work to increase the sense of security. But at the same time it is clear that however deplorable the event was, it was a exception and on the whole Estonian school safety has not notably changed since Monday,” Education Minister Jevgeni Ossinovski said.
Schools do have crisis plans, worked out with local police, which will be reviewed after the Viljandi tragedy, he said, adding that the Paalalinna school in Viljandi team acted in a professional manner.
He said the ministry has drawn up and sent out methods and techniques on how to reassure, calm and explain such events to children and parents.
Former interior minister Ken-Marti Vaher (IRL) said the state has taken many rational steps since the 2011 attack on the Ministry of Defense to increase readiness, but emotionally, society was not ready for the Viljandi shooting.
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Merike Martinson (Center Party) said no one can be fully prepared for such events. She said mental health of Estonian school children has been in a critical state for a while, there are many unsolved problems. She added that in recent years centers to tackle the problem have popped up.
Interior Minister Hanno Pevkur (Reform Party) said police have mapped 316 risk families, but said the state can not take it much further as Estonia should not become a police state. “Noticing these things begins at home, we should not create illusions that only a teacher can identify a problematic student.”
He said he agrees with Vaher that emotional readiness is lagging behind.
“If school staff and parents fail to notice that a child is struggling, it can escalate into such cases as we saw in Viljandi,” Pevkur said.
Ossinovski said the connection between the school and parents is weak in Estonia.
Martinson said there are around 50,000 children in Estonia who need special attention, support and sympathetic ears, but the help centers are too few.
On September 1, this year, Rajaleidja (translated as path finder) centers opened in all counties in Estonia, offering advice on topics such as careers and education.
On Monday, a 15-year-old pupil shot dead his teacher in Viljandi, the first such case in Estonia.