The spate of school attacks in China — six in a seven-month period in 2010 — have raised concerns about copycats. News media in China, all of which are state-controlled, gave wide coverage to the Connecticut attack. But they ran the same brief Xinhua report about Friday’s knifings in Guangshan, and local officials refused to provide more information, signs that authorities want to restrict the news either to prevent encouraging others or to play down the crime to keep blame off the government.
If identifying possible perpetrators is difficult, providing better access to mental health services and restricting the availability of firearms are key to reducing the numbers of victims, experts said.
‘‘It’s interesting that you have two individuals entering schools but because of the means of their attacks — one with firearms, one with a knife — there’s an extreme disparity in the casualties,’’ said Christian Chan, a professor of psychology at Hong Kong University. ‘‘It’s the means that we can control, not necessarily the psychology of people. Throughout history there will always be people who might lose it.’’
Tight controls mean that gun crimes are rare in China and make knives and sometimes explosives the weapons used in mass attacks in China. Even so, violence is on the rise as people grow frustrated with a corrupt and often indifferent officialdom and seek other means to address grievances.
‘‘The social environment is a factor behind attacks in China,’’ said Ku Jianhui, a lawyer with the Beijing Xindong law firm. ‘‘A person who chooses extreme acts to voice his or her grievances usually believes that his or her cases were unable to be handled fairly through normal channels or legal procedures.’’
Associated Press reporter Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Australia, and researcher Henry Hou in Beijing contributed to this report.