THEY pack their school bags and go to school with textbooks, pencil cases... and knives, penknives and even choppers.
These students do it to 'get back at classmates who have offended' them.
This revelation comes from the police.
On Thursday, one primary school here read out a police advisory to its students and teachers that in January alone, 13 students were arrested by the police for having weapons on them.
These included knives and even choppers found during random checks on schoolbags in school. The checks were conducted nationwide.
Another four youths arrested were not students.
The information was carried in a crime prevention advisory issued by the police and usually given out to schools before every holiday period.
Said a police spokesman: 'The advisory is part of an ongoing collaboration between the police and MOE (Ministry of Education) to alert students of youth crime trends and to warn and educate them on the consequences of crime before the school holidays.'
The advisory is sent by the police to the MOE, which then disseminates it to schools. The latest advisory shocked several teachers as it was read out.
It revealed that when the youths were questioned, one said that they took the weapons to school to 'get back at classmates who have offended them'.
Investigations are still ongoing.
Most parents contacted by The New Paper said they were stunned by the news.
Ms Candy Tan, who has two children, aged 15 and 17, said: ' The school will have to help. It is also right to highlight to the students that such things have been happening.'
Some parents, such as Mr David Lee, 37, felt that the onus of ensuring that students do not take weapons to schools should not fall on schools alone.
He said: 'It is alarming to hear of such a thing in Singapore. The schools can't body-search all their students every day. Maybe education is the way to go.'
Mr Lee has three sons, two of whom are in primary school.
Mrs Esther Chua, 41, felt that the cases should be handled by the police.
She said: 'It's fortunate that they found the weapons during random checks, but it's not a wise thing to leave the situation to the schools to handle.'
No blanket search, please
Not all parents support the idea of checking all students every day.
A 40-year-old man who only wanted to be known as David said: 'I'm against searching kids. Any kid found to have weapons on him should be disciplined individually, together with his parents.
'I don't think that other well-behaved kids should suffer being searched.'
Meanwhile, some felt that such incidents were not unexpected.
Said Mr Sebastian Anthony, 45, a father of three: 'It's not happening only now. It has always been there, even in top schools. This is nothing new.'
Mrs Audra Chuah, a homemaker, felt that parents may also be failing to address their children's problems.
Said the 37-year-old mother of three: 'To the 36-year-old, a 6-year-old's problem is nothing, but to the 6-year-old, a class bully is the biggest problem in the world.'
She added that her daughter's primary school counsellor had brought up the issue of youth violence during a conversation before.
She said: 'She told me that kids are not going to parents and are instead trying to handle things on their own. And to them, they see it happening on TV and think it's okay.'
Mr Stanley Wong, 59, an ex-school teacher and counsellor, said youth violence is a growing trend.
'These teens have issues which they haven't resolved and counsellors and teachers need to help them learn to manage their anger alongside parents,' he said.
He added that more children are turning to violence at a younger age and this could be due to the influence of violent computer games and TV programmes they watch.
He said: 'They don't have adults or parents around to teach them how to cope with grievances and to talk to them about their problems.'
Mr Wong has taught in several schools, including St Anthony's Canossian Secondary School, Raffles Institution and Telok Kurau Secondary School.
- Pearly Tan, newsroom intern
This article was first published in The New Paper.