In some schools in the USA, metal detectors are common as sometimes the presence of a Police patrol on the outskirts. Some may be tempted to ask why in a country that is rich and is the bastion of freedom and democracy. Others may counter that, exactly because of what the country represents, it can afford to have such mechanisms in place. The answer basically lies in trying to curb violence in schools.While the measures may appear to some as being extreme, given what unfortunately happened in the past where lives were senselessly lost to bullets, it may be deemed inadequate. After all, it hasn’t stopped. Other menaces are bullying and gang-related violence. These are the harsh realities in some institutions of learning there with an obvious negative impact on the student population involved.It is not confined to there and is prevalent in many other places. Here, Guyana is trying to come to grips with a seemingly new reality of gun violence recently perpetrated against the Principal of a leading private school – that might have stemmed from frightening threats on social media allegedly by someone who may have been a part of that school’s family. Even more frightening is that the threats are being renewed.Whatever the grouse, in the end: the Principal is injured and hospitalised; classes have been suspended naturally out of concern for safety; and fear has crept into the minds of students, parents, and staff. The Police have since announced deployment at city schools. Who would have thought that in the process of getting an education here is Guyana, safety in schools is becoming a primary concern? With the threats in question, it seems rightfully so.Some signs lurked to warn about violence in schools, but maybe not to that extent. Some time before the shooting, there were reports of a teacher who was severely beaten reportedly by a student. Over time, there were other reports of students being stabbed by others or hurt by other means. Bullying, which is just another form of abuse and even violence, was reported to be highly prevalent in many schools.Those represent reported cases as the understanding is many are unreported out of fear of repercussion. In some schools, there is reportedly a visible presence of known gangs, which are identified by particular colours. Some of the violence meted out allegedly results from the initiation process. There were published articles over the menacing presence of two particular gangs in parts of the country which have infiltrated some schools.While the gangs and the reason for the Principal being shot may not be related, the sum total is that the chance of being hurt in school has increased over time. Solace must not be taken in the fact that we are living in a changing world. For once so rationalised, then what unfortunately happened to the Principal could be accepted as the new routine. Violence over the years and its extensive coverage in the media have led to a seeming immunity to the gory images and now make for casual reading.This must not be allowed to slip into the mindset of students and teachers. They must be free from such psychological stress and be able to focus on learning to build much-needed capacity for the future of the country. All, especially the relevant authorities, have an integral role to play in helping to repel this scourge.While there may be compelling arguments over what may be the reasons perpetrators act the way they do and the spread of violence, immediate mitigating measures have to be derived and implemented, so despicable acts such as the shooting in question must not be repeated.The Police presence, while welcomed and a potential deterrent, may not be enough in the long term as sustainability could become an issue. It has to be supported by other means, particularly in schools deemed to be high-risk. Even in that, the unexpected can happen in one deemed to be of no risk. The situation, therefore, becomes much more complicated in a country of very limited related resources.Many have argued that parents and guardians need to be more involved and aware of what their children are doing, keeping an eye on any possible worrying sign. While that could still be effective in many ways, there is a challenge as the child approaches adulthood. At that stage, one’s space and privacy could present barriers. There are also social factors that contribute to disallowing such necessary intervention to some extent. That further complicates an already-complicated situation.Currently, the fear that prevails within the mindsets of parents, students, and teachers of the school in question is understandable. They would need guidance, reassurance and solutions in both the short and long term. The situation would probably demand the establishment of a non-partisan special task force comprising skilled personnel from the relevant sections of Government and civil society to examine and recommend practical solutions within the shortest possible time.Whatever the findings are, the resources must be found to implement the necessary measures given what’s at stake. If not, the fun in learning could be evaporated if it hasn’t begun already, through a sad and unwelcomed import from up north.