Once again a child at the tender age of 7, who could have been a great contribution in making this world a better place, has become a victim of a heinous crime. It’s unfortunate and terrifying to that the crime took place in the temple of knowledge i.e. school. It happened in a so called accept reputed school on 8th September 2017. This incident shattered the world of the parents and family of the little one. An obvious uproar of the parents, politicians, government department or administration and media covered the entire nation. A lot has been said and written about this incident which is unfortunately not the first one but if we make sincere efforts we can definitely make it the last one.
Amidst this sad situation a journalist of a Hindi newspaper, has presented a very balanced analyses of the grave incident. He is of the view that everyone must contribute to safeguard our children in the school premises. The major responsibility is on the school management as no one else can ensure the safety of the kids within the school premises better than the administration of the school. The very first step has to be the selection of the staff under strict guidelines and thereafter proper training and regular checks on them. Also, the physical infrastructure of the school is also very important and the sensitive nooks and corners should be monitored with the help of cameras.
It’s a popular saying in Hindi that ‘a child is given milk by the mother only when he cries for it’, in today’s scenario the parents are ‘shouting’ to let the management know that they want a better environment for their kids in school. There were times when schools were defined as a ‘masterji’ teaching a bunch of kids under the shade of a tree. Today, the schools claim numerous facilities in the name of education but safety of the kids should always be the priority.
We come across horrible incidents of sexual and emotional assault of little kids almost every week. The so called ‘good’ schools boasts of their vision and mission as the all round development of the kids which is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual but the reality of the present times is that some of these schools don’t have proper infrastructure for physical activities, don’t teach the students to express emotionally and doesn’t sensitize them on sensitive issues, burden of course pressurizes them and their aren’t any methods left in the curriculum to enlighten the students spiritually.
What I observed after this unfortunate incident is that everyone is passing the ball in other’s court and no one wants to take the responsibility. Such incidents expose the loopholes of the entire management. The board to which this school is affiliated has once again done its duty by sending revised guidelines for implementation in the schools, which have been sent in earlier cases also.
My question is that why the board was waiting for such an incident to occur and did not ensure earlier whether these guidelines were strictly implemented or not? The very board which gave affiliation to this school should have made sure that regular inspections were done to keep in check that all the guidelines were followed. Even the school administration should have ensured that these guidelines were strictly adhered to. I request the parents to make sure that their child will be safe in the school premises before getting the child enrolled in any school and they should not be carried away by the name and fame of the school.
The management of such renowned schools should not become a money making machine. Education is not an industry, its sheer knowledge which is imparted with the mission of a child’s holistic development and the safety of the child thus becomes a priority. School is the pious place where knowledge is worshipped.Let us take a step forward to ensure that it remains so:
· Most important function should be played by the school staff; guards, support staff, teachers and administrative personnel and they should take direct responsibility in their own way. If all remain vigilant then surely such incident can be stopped. All should keep their eyes and ear open and help children be safe in the school premises.
· The security and all other support staff should be appointed with utmost care and they should be sensitized on regular basis of their responsibilities and duties especially with regard to the safety of the children.
· Though it is becoming difficult to find good teachers today as teaching as a profession is not being looked up to and due to increase in tuition culture teachers are losing their deserved place in the society as education is being sold. A teacher is supposed to be trained in child psychology, she/he must be extremely understanding, patient and affectionate so that they would go out of their way to make sure that the child is doing well and is safe. For this the school management should arrange training and counselling sessions for them.
· The infrastructure of the school should be such that no one unwanted can come in the school premises. The secluded areas should be under strict supervision. CCTV cameras are unfortunately becoming a priority and they should be installed in vulnerable places so that they act as a deterrent to crime. All those areas which are not be visited by the children should be locked and guard should be stationed. The guards and other school staff should be given proper responsibilities at various places and they should be checked on regular basis.
· Children should be guided not to stay alone in isolated areas even inside the school premises such as toilets, basement etc. They should be counseled about the good touch/bad touch and should be made confident enough to stay strong in uncomfortable situations and try shout if unable to run from there. They should be taught that they should raise their voice in case they are being touched without their wish and comfort. Children of primary and middle block should be given extra care and attention. The staff and parents of primary and middle schools should be extremely attentive towards their responsibility.
· Parents should make sure that they maintain such a rapport with their child so that the child can openly express these issues and doesn’t feel uncomfortable and shy. It’s high time that we Indian parents come out of the so called cocoon of traditional orthodoxies and talk openly to the kids about sensitive issues and possible dangers. Remember kids are the soft targets of assaulters and their weapon is fear so make sure that your child is not scared at all and has full faith on you in every situation. Parents need to come out of their stereotypes and realize that boys are also targeted and therefore they should be taught to express openly instead of enforcing the age old horrendous idea that “boys don’t cry and aren’t sensitive”. The talks between parents and kids should not just be confined to academics.
· There should be open communication between school and parents and they must remain in touch with each other and parents should visit the school as often as possible and suggest what improvement can be enforced for better safety of the children.
· Group of teachers, parents and few senior students should review the safety situation and suggest measures if required.
· The school management must take it as their main responsibility to ensure that the safety of the students is their priority. And they should not wait for such an incident to happen rather they should strictly follow the guidelines given by the board and invest more on safety of the kids. The schools should not be treated as business but those who argue in favour of that have rather more responsibility for the safety of the children whom they consider as their “customers” (written with a very heavy heart).
· At last I would request the media and journalists to play a positive role by creating awareness among children, parents and school management in a constructive manner and show faith on the investigating authorities instead of blaming the entire education system shouting at the pitch of their voice at the prime time news.
Let us all work together in a hopeful, optimistic and constructive manner, giving our best to prove that even in the year 2017, this quote holds meaning in its true sense that:
“One, who opens a school door, closes a prison.”