The staff crucial in the school attack

Shortly after lunch on Wednesday 23 May, a man armed with a knife and an air gun entered Grimstaskolan in Vällingby.
Teachers and students locked themselves in classrooms just as practiced for PDV – ongoing deadly violence.
Now Lena Ljungdahl, school security specialist, thinks that national guidelines for school attacks should be drawn up.

It was the principal of the school, Tobias Hansson, who made the decision that the school would be housed, but even before the announcement came, many teachers had started the housing process as this is something that was practiced and talked about in the staff group.

– It took a couple of minutes, but we understood the seriousness of the situation quite quickly, says Tobias Hansson.

There is no conclusion

Lena Ljungdahl, school safety specialist, believes that they have benefited greatly from practicing and raising the issue.

– It has gone very well considering the extremely complex situation. The staff has been mentally prepared and had knowledge of different options, she says.

Furthermore, Lena Ljungdahl explains that there is nothing in the results where you can know in advance exactly how to proceed.

– There are a great many decisions that need to be made on the spot and you cannot say in advance what is best in the individual situation. Away from danger at high speed and directly, that’s the only thing you need to keep in mind, she says.

The warden was a former police officer

The hero in the drama at Grimstaskolan was the janitor who managed to overpower the perpetrator. He has a background as a police officer and therefore knew how to handle the situation. And according to Lena Ljungdahl, he did exactly the right thing from a police perspective, even though this is ultimately the police’s job.

– What we know about ongoing deadly violence is that the perpetrator will continue his act until a confrontation takes place. There will always be people on site who do this. It is of course life-threatening and a last resort, but as far as the collective is concerned, it is good. But the right to emergency protection is a right and not an obligation, she says.

“The school should not be a crime scene”

These types of armed school attacks are becoming more common and a survey as the newspaper Skolvärlden has done shows that over 30% of junior and senior high school teachers are very or quite worried about a school attack in the workplace.

But there is an extremely large difference from school to school in how well prepared you are to handle this type of situation. There are schools in Sweden that believe it is the police’s job. Despite this, Lena Ljungdahl believes that it looks hopeful. More and more people are discussing, acquiring knowledge and developing action plans.

– The school should not be a crime scene, it should be a safe environment, she says.

At Grimstaskolan, the work to create security continues.

– It is clear that many people feel bad. But many help and support to create peace and quiet and get back into everyday life, says Tobias Hansson.


See the full interview here