TOC says school lockdown drills are government “propaganda”

Terrorism is real, don’t anyhow score political points leh

On 13 Sep, The Online Citizen (TOC) came out with a disturbing article with the headline “Hopefully, childhoods of children are not marred as a means to garner bigger vote share”. TOC questioned the intent behind lockdown drills in Singapore schools.

These drills have teachers and students locking themselves in classrooms and hiding from sight, in case an intruder with heinous intention enters the premises, according to this TODAY report in 2017.

The simulation of an attack starts after the school’s general office relays a code that “an intruder” is in the compound. Teachers and students are to lock the classrooms, close the windows and switch off all lights and fans. Students are also told to put their mobile phones on silent mode or switch them off.

Unlike the United States, an armed intruder has not rampaged through a school here. But it doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. What’s wrong with being prepared? For TOC to even try to link school lockdown drills with the government trying to exaggerate the terror threat because of upcoming elections is completely irresponsible. Trying to score political points at the expense of our children’s safety is plain wrong.

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TOC says that “according to news reports, the threat of terrorism is not higher now than it was in the last few years.” That may be so, but it doesn’t mean that we should let our guard down. When the terror threat increases and we are caught unprepared, it would be too late.

We may not be aware of the full extent of the work done by our security agencies and rightly so for national security reasons, but it certainly doesn’t mean the terror threat should be taken lightly. We must not let ourselves become complacent.

TOC also makes another point that our school children “deserve a childhood that is innocent and happy. Not one that is marked by fear.” Yes, children should be happy. But are we doing them any favours when we do not prepare them for the realities of life? In fact, these lockdown drills can save their lives if the unthinkable ever happens. And I understand from my friends who are school teachers that the lockdown drills are nothing as traumatizing as TOC paints them to be.

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If TOC wants to question government policies and generate healthy debate, I am all for it. But in this case, TOC is barking up the wrong tree. And worse still, they are willing to compromise on the safety of children to stir sentiments, accusing the authorities of overplaying the terror threat. TOC should really take a long and hard look at itself.