In India, most parents fail to look beyond safety in terms of constant chaperonage. Child safety is a growing concern especially at places where parents cannot escort their children such as schools and buses. The need to create a better, safer world for children can be further emphasized by alarming national statistics which states that 53% children are abused.
The rising figures of child abuse do not necessarily indicate a higher incidence of crimes against children, but also signify that people have become more aware and empowered. Additionally, higher media exposure and sensitivity have encouraged people to unabatedly speak against such crimes. A child is in constant need of protection; they need to stay safe in schools and buses, apart from home.
Schools are said to be the sanctity of education and safety, trusted by parents for the development of their wards. Yet a study stated that over 1 lakh children (boys and girls) go missing in India each year. This rather disturbing statistic adds to the concern of whether schools are really safe for children. There are a number of elements making schools unsafe for kids like emergency situations bullying and abuse. As children tend to spend at least 6 to 8 hours at school every day, they fear of parents aren’t unfounded. Here is a checklist on why education systems need to ensure safety of children:
Surveillance and security
The world has taken such a heinous turn that constant surveillance is nothing but a necessity. School buildings need to be under surveillance on a 24×7 basis as a perquisite to the statement. This should involve the usage of competent CCTV cameras which monitor the activity of staff as well as students in corridors and open spaces. Although, surveillance footage can help schools track, monitor and prevent any kind of malicious activity, individuals are becoming sharper and culling out ways to fool the camera. Here tracking bands and sensors should come into foray- tracking activities with diligence
This constant vigilance can act as a valuable foil to even planning of crime. Alongside, this will curb truancy, ensuring that no students skip lessons and head out (unsupervised) before the end of a school day.
We, as human beings, come with our own individual characteristic, which is not built to please all. Yet, often people get riled by this very presence, resorting to psychological perversities such as bullying and demeaning to cow people down. Physical safety is not the only pressing need at schools as Ragging and bullying followed by MMS scandals are another major cause for concern among parents these days. Schools need to secure the mental health of students through strictly addressing cases of bullying/ragging on school premises. The appointment of counsellors/psychologists to help students address issues of trauma/rage/depression etc. through personal and group therapy sessions is mandatory. Bullying/ragging leaves a lasting impact on young minds, leading to depression and self hand and hence should be tackling on immediate basis.
Self Defence lessons
It is always said that self help is the best help. Here, the need to inculcate the act of self defence in the regular curriculum is of utmost importance. Students need to be safe even outside the school premises. Schools need to equip students with the power to tackle situations like abductions/abuse etc. Lessons in self-defence come as a boon during unprecedented events, leading to the ownership of safety and self-awareness. Self-defence lessons should include recognising unwanted advances, being alert in case a child is being watched, knowing how to throw off a physical attack etc. A special lesson on abuses should be included, too.
Children are of a free nature, running helter and skelter in search of satiating their curiosity. This leads to the path of knowledge, but also leaves them susceptible to a variety of harmful entities. Children tend to pick up bacteria and viruses mainly because of the food they consume and their surroundings. A safety measure is not just limited to an emergency, but also to their daily lives. Schools need to make certain that the food consumed by children on school premises follow stringent supervision to maintain hygiene. Food served at schools must undergo regular quality checks to ensure that the food is fit for consumption. India suffers from greater deficiencies in health and such regular checks would combat that.
Emergency can take place anytime and hence one must be prepared for the worst. With the rise in emergency situations around the world, institutions need to be better prepared to handle cases of terrorist attacks, shootings, fire etc. School shootings are rising on an alarming basis hence proper psychiatric backup should be present in the form of guides and counsellors. Emergency exit plans, appointing older students as floor wardens, preparing students to remain calm in case of attacks are some ways in which schools can ensure student safety. Also, special training should be meted out to help maintain composure in such situations.
Building a protective net around children is the responsibility of all members of society whether in charge for care of children or not. While it is physically impossible to monitor at every step, strong measures in terms of child security is the need of the hour.