13-Year-Old Kills 8 Pupils in Serbia School Shooting: Crucial Child Safeguarding and Protection Lessons for All


Source: The Globe and Mail

The 13-year-old was arrested following the shooting at the Vladislav Ribnikar Primary School in Belgrade. The boy’s father and mother have also been arrested.

It is the first school shooting in Serbia, and it is perpetrated by a child.

The motive for the shooting is still unclear.

The boy was alleged to have used his father’s guns, both of which had legal permits. He is also said to have gone to a shooting range more than once with his father before the killings.

In a televised address to the country, President Aleksandar Vucic described the attack as “the most difficult day in the modern history of our country”.

He said the boy would be sent to a psychiatric clinic. Under current Serbian law, he cannot be held criminally responsible as he is under 14.

Mr Vucic has suggested that the age of criminal liability may be lowered to 12 in the wake of the killings.

He has also proposed several other reforms, including an audit on firearms licenses and a tightening of the rules around who can access shooting ranges.

The police had stated that the boy had planned the attack a month in advance and that he had carried a “priority list” of children to target and which classrooms he would go into first.

Source: bbc.com

SENSES (Child Safeguarding and Protection Principle):

This is a horrifying case of a child killing other children and raises quite a few Child Safeguarding and Protection issues which needs to be addressed.

As primary and secondary parents we must resolve as a necessity to build capacity and sensibility needed towards Securing A Friendly and Protective Environment for our precious children.

We must be committed to care and protection, and this can only be achieved by seeking the appropriate KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS and ATTITUDE.

Care here simply means taking time to anticipate the needs and threats to our precious children and make adequate preparations to meet those needs and mitigate/prevent those threats well before they arise according to global standards.

One of the most important dispositions to care today is to be proactive in mastering how to protect our precious young people from themselves by inculcating positive value system into them, through example and communication, which is Meaningful, Healthy, Helpful, Supportive, Empathic and Inspirational.

In this case the father was alleged to have kept guns at home. Though it was said to be secured however, it was still within the reach of their precious son. This might not have been a deliberate act but does not also exonerate him from taking responsibility.

In one of the reports we monitored on CNN, one of the students in the school attributed the behavior of their peer, who is today in conflict with the law, to possibly excessive exposure to social media contents.

According to Live Science, one of the biggest and most trusted popular science websites operating today, reporting on the latest discoveries, groundbreaking research and fascinating breakthroughs that impact us and the wider world in article published on April 30, 2012, ‘playing violent shoot-‘em-up video games makes people more accurate at firing real guns, and make them more likely to aim for the head, a new study finds. Just 20 minutes of video game practice does the trick.’

Contact with media contents inform conduct. As Erwin MacManus has long argued, ‘what informs you forms you.’ Statistics have it that an average young person spends 7.3 hours a day on their smart devices. Yet, 79% of them admits that they are lonely.

This underscore the point we have always made that in today’s world, where our precious children are dealing with so many influences and vices, one of which is excessive exposure to unregulated media contents, it is important that as primary and secondary parents we put in place measures to regulate the type of media content our children are exposed to as they are most often influenced by the same.

Something that is also worth mentioning here is the fact that this child in conflict with the law is reported to have to have gone to a shooting range more than once with his father. The question is why take a child to a shooting range? Apart from the fact that our precious children will always follow our example, we must have it at the back of our minds that they will give expression to their curiosity and be careful of the triggers we expose them to in this regard.

As a Child-Focused Organization we do not believe that shooters are born, rather they are made, and parenting has a huge role to play. The family and community have a huge role to play in laying the foundation of the childhood of a child which in turn determines the life the child would lead as an adult.

STONE (Call to action):

First, the finding or allegation that the child planned the shooting a month before and had a hit list may point to hatred at one of the possible motivations. But why would a child carry so much hatred? Could this have been because of rejection, bullying and forms of ill-treatment? Could this child’s action be traceable to commitment to revenge? We think that in investigating the motive, all these issues must be probed and resolve as keys to prevention of the reoccurrence of this kind of bizarre episode of a child killing other children.

Considering that fact that the age of the child is 13 and he is not criminally liable today and will only be sent to psychiatric clinic, we hope that the announcement by the president to lower the age of criminal liability to 12 would not be applied to this case retroactively. To do so would be to obfuscate the issues. While there must be justice, it must be in accordance with the law and aimed at getting to the root of this matter, including finding the true story behind the making of this child and how to prevent a reoccurrence in the future. We must fear that we this matter is not properly addressed, other children may do the same. There is no amount of retribution that may stop this expect to find the root cause of this unbelievable and disturbing occurrence and how best to prevent the same in the future.

As primary and secondary parents we must always keep out of the reach of our precious children any harmful objects and substance. The object in the instance of this case is a gun. As a rule, in Child Safeguarding and Protection, whatever, we do not want children to touch or access to, we must deliberately and consistently keep out of their reach.

We must also take measures to regulate the type of media contents our precious children are exposed to. In doing this we must also ensure that they only have access to social media platforms that are age-appropriate for them.

Finally, we believe that better attention and emphasis should be targeted towards the subject matter of responsible parenting as the core of making or marring the destinies of children is their primary and secondary parents.




  1. The parent of the child failed to take him through the pain of appropriate discipline and they are left to face the pain of regret as a result of their negligence of deliberate purpose.

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