There is a time for hurt, anger and helplessness. And that time has passed. It’s time now for action, plain and simple. No more excuses, no more buck-passing. The safety and security of our children in schools demands a holistic effort, each prong playing its own significant part. The government, the law enforcement authorities, the school, the parents and the children themselves – it’s our combined duty to ensure that violence and abuse, in any of its foul forms, does not snake in through the school gates and slash at innocents any more.
Reacting to the spate of ghastly attacks on school children, the Centre has already come up with a series of safety measures. Schools have been directed to sensitise students about gender sensitive issues, appoint female staff for operating school buses, screen films about good touch and bad touch, and popularise the child helpline (1098).
Directives alone could never ensure safety. Proper implementation will. This is where schools will have to rise to the challenge of ensuring that student safety measures are being scrupulously followed. Intensifying security measures, carrying out regular audits and maintenance checks of existing security systems, maintaining strict vigilance in the school premises, and monitoring of the CCTV footage collected, is mandatory. Police verification and psychometric assessment of staff members, physical presence of security guards at various points, and even meditation activities for non-teaching and teaching staff to maintain positivity, would further help.
Increased involvement by the police would ensure regular checks on security arrangements, comprehensive CCTV coverage, and help identification verification for non-regular, non-permanent employees.
A parent’s responsibility does not end with waving bye to the child. A more proactive approach is necessary, whether it is increased involvement in the PTA, or advocating an open-door policy where parents can directly approach the principal to address serious grievances.
And finally our children… We need to empower them to be smart, strong, and safe. Children who are aware of their rights over their minds and bodies, who have been given hands-on training in dealing with emergency situations, and who are made stake-holders in their safety, will be the biggest deterrent to violence.
This is the editorial of our October 2017 issue.
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