Why are schools faltering in ensuring the safety of children?

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The brutal murder of 7-year-old Pradyuman Thakur in Gurugram's Ryan Internation School shook the entire country as it brought out the blatant apathy of school authorities. Even before the one got the chance to recover from the shock of the cold blooded murder, a 5-year old girl was allegedly raped by a peon in Tagore Public School in Delhi's Shahadara a day after Pradyuman's murder.

Why are schools faltering in ensuring the safety of children?

Investigation in both cases reveals the security lapses on the part of school authorities. Case in point would be Pradyuman's murder which happened inside the school premises that too in the bathroom meant for only children. However, the bus conductor who confessed to the crime said that he and other drivers and conductors would use the washroom without any hindrance from the authorities.

Just one day after the incident, when a 5-year-old girl was raped inside a classroom in Delhi's Tagore Public school, the child's uncle alleged that the peon accused of the rape was hired by the school authorities without any proper verification.

The question is where do the parents go if a child is not even safe inside classrooms and school premises? How long will school authorities shirk of responsibility? Will education institutes become just money minting machines in future?

In light of the two horrific incidents of rape, murder and sexual assault, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Anil Baijlal reportedly wrote to Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia to adopt security measures laid down by Delhi police before schools are provided recognition.

The statistics of crime against children in the country is shocking and displays the sorry state of child safety and security.

According to the NCRB data a total of 14,913 cases under the 'Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act', 2012 were registered during the year 2015, however, only 10091 were convicted. 18,258 males and 422 females were acquitted during 2015.

Low Conviction Rate

A total of 84,440 cases reported under crime against Children were disposed of by police during 2015. Out of 21,604 cases in which trials were completed, 7,690 cases ended in conviction. Thus the conviction rate under crime against children at the national level stood at 35.6%.

Joyanto Mukherjee, Founder, Tutored and Trained said, "Schools have become auto piloted management spaces where systems are running but no one is checking them regularly. Big loopholes are covered up as that will affect school image and PR. Schools at end of the day are huge official revenue generating spaces. A reason why I keep on saying that they should be audited internally at least 4-5 times a year. I know schools who have tried to cover up sexual harassment cases, underplayed suicide cases and what not only to uphold the image. We are sitting on a time bomb and such incidents are going to only increase. Basic know how of support staff and understanding their jurisdiction is never taken seriously. The problem starts there. Ask a school teacher to name all the bus drivers and she won't know the names of more than four. Till the time systems are not checked and audited, these incidents will crop up everywhere,"

Joydeep Mazumdar, Engineer said, "It certainly plays on the mind. Uneasiness spreads every time one reads about such a crime. But there is also a role to play as a parent. Abuse when physical is easily visible but emotional abuse can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle, they usually go unnoticed. Important to observe and communicate with the child every day. Very important to believe what the child says. Many a time, the early signs of trouble are revealed much before the actual crime. As teachers and parents, we must not ignore those signs."

Shreyosi Sahani, Corporate lawyer said, "No. I have a constant fear that something adverse will happen to my child. School authorities assure us of safety, and of clean records, but then, they must have assured Pradyumans parents, too."

Suvodip said, "I think the schools must ensure that proper surveillance on children is maintained, and verification must be done before employing staff in such institutions,"

A generation in which children are perpetually under threat of horrifying and life-threatening game such as the Blue Whale, sexual assaults, abduction, will schools also fail in ensuring safety?

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