The recent episode outside one of the leading East Delhi schools that I happened to witness as a passerby made me think how vulnerable our school going children are and that it is imperative that we all, as adults and guardians of these children, do everything possible by us, to keep them safe.
A 2017 report by Global Peace Index had claimed India to be the fourth most dangerous country for women travellers. Gender Vulnerability Index 2017 compiled by Ministry of Women and Child Development found Bihar, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand to be the bottom four in terms of safety. The data highlight the urgent need to ensure proper law and order situation in the country, cites Financial Express. 43% of our country’s population is below 18 years. Activists believe that for every single case reported there may be a hundred unreported cases.
Looking at the critical situation, here are a few tips for school authorities, students and parents so we can bring more safety:-
1. Schools must conduct sessions with children and sensitise them about good and bad touch. They must be educated about what kinds of crimes can occur and how they can be better prepared to stay safe in schools.
2. Counselling programs for students attending schools around the subject and how to tackle such situations.
3. 24/7 phone call based support must be provided to students if they want to report any such incident and they must be allowed to do so anonymously so more students can come forward and report them.
4. Create child victim support systems so that victims can get support to face the long legal battle if they report a crime.
5. Due diligence using thorough background verification of all staffs and helpers hired in schools and other educational institutions. This will help to protect the school from security liabilities to a large extent.
6. CCTV camera need to be installed in every and every school and these should not just be in common corridors as the norm is but even inside common areas in washrooms, every classroom and any other closed spaces.
7. Last but not the least; Government must create an online sex offender’s database which can be used to check every prospective employee before hiring them. This can deter repeat offenders.
8. Create neighbourhood watch schemes where anyone child’s parent can accompany a group of children playing in the park.
9. Do NOT shy away from explaining to your child that she or he needs to raise their voice no matter who it is. There is no shame.
Children are vulnerable and criminals love the anonymity they get in big cities. While whatever is happening around us is alarming, as long as all of us do not get together and make a change in our respective communities and neighbourhoods, we cannot expect a change suddenly.