When society loses control, teachers and librarians take the hit.
Students abusing teachers with bicycle chain. Teachers exposed to spittoons. It is after several such incidents that a number of employees at Nytorpsskolan in Hammarkullen have been equipped with alarms at work. It was revealed by GP last week (23/10). The alarms go directly to the police, and are intended to protect teachers from being exposed to violence from their own students.
This is nasty news, but at the same time it can not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the development in Swedish segregated areas over the past decade, not just in Gothenburg. In residential areas where criminals dominate, violence, threats and a culture of silence will also accompany the school. This is another development that no person in a decision-making position has the right to say – “We didn’t see this coming”.
We also saw this coming.
At the same time, the National Union of Teachers demands that the government investigate a special legal protection for school staff, corresponding to what currently exists for blue light staff. The idea is that Swedish teachers should receive support in their work of teaching the foundations of democracy, and this is of course caused by last week’s terrorist murder of a teacher outside Paris.
Such special protection can certainly be effective. But it is also reminiscent of the wider consequences of society losing control of crime, and what it really is when responsible politicians talk about “society having to act” against this crime. It is not primarily the police or guards who are in the front line against gangs, clans and petty criminals, but the soft parts of society: teachers, social workers, librarians.
In the debate, there is talk of attacks on these different soft parts as different things. In fact, these are usually different expressions of the same social decline. This year, I visited two outlying areas in Västerås where libraries have been forced to adapt their opening hours to threatening immigrant gangs. The Bäckby district has been hit by a long list of problems, from attacks on buses to car fires. The library is housed in a building together with a leisure center and school, and had when I was there been tormented by youth gangs to the point that they were forced to reduce opening hours and equip the staff with alarms at the counter. But also in the leisure center in the same building, there had been threatening situations. There, the staff was forced to carry alarms.
I was told that drug dealers were roaming around outside waiting for the school children.
Even in Västerås, responsible politicians promised that society would stand up to those who threaten. “We must set boundaries,” promised the chairman of the municipal board Anders Teljebäck when I spoke to him.
What does this mean in practice?
In this specific case, it meant that a female librarian was behind the counter at her job and was scared.