The molestation of a three-year-old girl on a school bus has once more raised concerns about our children’s safety. What more can one do to ensure that every child is safe on the way to and from school?
In this post-Delhi gang rape world, the answers are not easy to come by. The positive lesson is that the presence of a lady attendant prevented further harm; there is no doubt that every school bus must have a woman attendant on board. But it is time to raise the bar. In the developed world, everyone dealing with children has to go through a thorough background check. And this isn’t just once, but repeated every few years. Such checks immediately eliminate anyone with a criminal record. Schools must use CCTV and GPS to monitor the buses. It is important to note that none of these measures raises costs such that children stop using the buses.
There is also the question of vicarious liability. The school claims the bus is from an outsourced firm. But should key functions be outsourced? The safety of our children is paramount and must rest with the school, not some nameless firm. Some schools subsidise the education of the children of bus drivers and conductors. This works as in incentive for the drivers and conductors, and cannot happen when such jobs are outsourced. Clearly, every job cannot be outsourced.
We can never prevent crimes 100 per cent; but we can keep learning. Let us learn from this latest tragedy.