The recent murder of a school going child has drawn huge public outrage. What can be more shameful for us as a nation where we can’t even guarantee safety and security to children. News channels have been making stunning revelations about this case day in and day out. However, the media enthusiasm will wear out soon. Now it’s high time that we find long-term sustainable solutions to these problems.
The electronic media which demands accountability from the government seems to have forgotten their responsibilities in this case. As per the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, publishing or displaying names and photographs is a criminal offence. The media should practice what they preach. They should have focused more on educating people on the issue rather than just focusing on their Television Rating Points (TRPs).
The real challenge is to assure safety of children in the school premises. It’s a herculean task but I think if somehow schools manage to have all female non-teaching staff then it will be a big step in keeping children safe at school. I believe that even the bus drivers and conductors should be female. I’m saying this because we seem to have no other option as we can’t wait till some males are ethically conditioned. We can’t afford to lose any more innocent lives.
There should be separate toilets for children and CCTVs must be installed at the entrance. There should be sufficient number of cameras in classrooms, staircases and other areas for surveillance. The teaching staff, non-teaching staff and children must be given ID cards. There must be guards at the entry gate to regulate the entry of any outsider within the premises. A separate log must be maintained to record the entry and exit of outsiders. The school premises must be a no-go area for outsiders and guards during school hours. There should be a separate room near the entrance to facilitate any interaction between the outsiders and insiders. Schools must not have broken walls and the windows must have metal grills.
Legislature and Judiciary should set higher standards of accountability for school managements. Every time such incidents happen then it’s not sufficient to just frame them for negligence. Their accountability must be increased with a special statute having stronger provisions for punishment.
There should be a separate committee in every school that would deal with the safety issues of children. This committee should consist of members from school management and parents. The parents should be in majority exceeding nearly 70% composition of the committee. This committee should hold regular meetings, at least once in two months to discuss the safety issues of children and to see if all the safety infrastructures are well in place. These meetings should also ensure participation of school children to look into their concerns. A regular participation from district administration and police department would also be a effective. This committee can play a proactive role in solving this problem by conducting regular awareness and interactive sessions with school children and by organising training sessions for them on basic survival instincts. Parents should make their children aware of their rights. They should teach their child about the good touch and bad touch. After all, safety comes with awareness.
Since ancient times, schools have been considered as temples in our society. It’s very painful to see that how these temples have become so unsafe. As long as these children are in danger, India is in danger and we must do all we can to protect them.