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Campus insecurity

Lahore bomb blast March, 2008: As bomb blasts become a regular feature of city life in Pakistan, citizens are being forced to get accustomed to living with the perpetual threat of death and injuries that these explosions bring in their wake. Another distressing aspect is the widening range of targets and the fear this instils in people. The impact this has on the lives of people was demonstrated by the recent bomb hoaxes in some schools in Karachi and Lahore.
For parents, the prospect of their children being targeted is a frightening one. Equally worrying is a situation when a school receives a bomb threat and there is no way of knowing if it is real or a hoax. Given their responsibility vis--vis their students, schools cannot ignore a threat. Hence the need for all schools to be prepared for such eventualities.

The most sensible approach would be for all schools to draw up an evacuation plan for emergencies. These should include not just bomb scares but also fires and natural calamities that call for urgent measures. Schools could draw up safety evacuation plans in consultation with one another and the education department. The idea should not be to spread panic and alarm the children, but to train them how to act in an emergency if they are required to evacuate the school building. This would entail holding regular exercises - but they should be unannounced and spontaneous. Thus children will accept them as normal school routine as civil defence drills were in schools of yore. It is unfortunate that, for the most part, there is no concept of school safety, and most educational institutions do not even have regular fire drills, let alone bomb drills. In the case of any disaster, one can imagine how difficult it would be to evacuate the children and school staff in the panic that would ensue if there are no guidelines about the measures to be taken. As violence increases in the country, it is only right that all citizens - both children and adults -be made aware of the dangerous times in which we live and be instructed on how to cope with threatening situations. Dawn
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