Over 90 percent of elementary schools have implemented measures to help protect their students from crime, including “hazard maps,” according to an education ministry survey.

The survey by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry found 90.4 percent of the elementary schools polled had hazard maps — listing areas children should avoid and places to seek help — at the end of March 2005, up from 61.9 percent the previous year.

In addition, 92.7 percent of elementary schools, up from 86.5 percent, have met with parents and police to discuss security issues, up from 86.5 percent the prior year.

About 80 percent of elementary schools have handed out emergency buzzers to pupils or have adult volunteers patrol the neighborhoods around the schools, an increase of about 12 percentage points from the prior year.

The upped security has been in direct response to requests from the education ministry, reacting to several high-profile violent crimes against children in recent years.

The education ministry told all prefectural boards of education to review their security policies after a man entered a school in Ikeda, Osaka Prefecture, in 2001 and murdered eight children, and wounded 13 and two teachers.

It issued a notice late last year asking schools to create hazard maps and increase communication with parents and police after a 7-year-old girl in Hiroshima Prefecture was murdered in November.

One education ministry official said the results of the school programs in terms of how secure people feel “are extremely difficult to verify because a sense of safety and unease cannot be quantified.”

The ministry said it plans to ask schools to continue their programs, and continue to review them so people do not become complacent.

The survey, the second the ministry has conducted, covered 53,365 public and private schools at all levels on such subjects as their measures for dealing with suspicious people and drills related to crime prevention.

The survey found that elementary schools are the most vigilant about student safety.

Elementary schools that have monitoring devices account for 50.6 percent, and 78.0 percent have or plan to keep shields, pepper spray and “sasumata,” a two-pronged weapon riot police use to restrain people.

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