Outraged by the incident of a 4-year-old girl’s molestation by her school bus conductor, city schools are doubling their child safety measures.
Swati Popat Vats, president of the Podar Education Network , said, “After the incident, we called a meeting of school bus attendants, drivers and school support staff to brief them about what constitutes a good touch and a bad touch. We also stressed on the laws governing child rights in the country and the punitive action that can be taken against them if they are caught violating them.’’
The Juhu school where the child was a student has stated that starting Monday, women staff from the school will accompany the pre-primary students on the bus, in addition to the lady attendant. “The PTA has been informed through its core committee. We have already initiated talks with the vendor for mobile CCTVs and bus tracking system. We’re awaiting their proposal,’’ read the school statement.
“Installing CCTV cameras inside school buses and other key areas in the school might act as a deterrent for such crimes. It will also serve as video evidence in the court. But they need to be properly monitored. And parents need to be willing to incur the costs in terms of higher bus fees,’’ said Kusum Kanwar, principal and head of school operations at Billabong High International School.
While the management of Motilal Hargovindas School and Junior College, Thane wants to introduce a screening process to ensure visitors entering the school are first registered, other schools like Saraswati Vidayala and Adarsh Bal Vidyalaya have passed the proposals for installing infrared-sensitive CCTVs at gates, reception areas, playgrounds, libraries and assembly fields to monitor visitors and keep an eye on the students.
Experts say that such measures need to be backed by sensitization and training of support staff. “The government should start a training centre or a compulsory course that attendants handling children need to take. Schools should only hire attendants who have acquired certificates for such courses. Also, schools and parents need to stop covering up such incidents. They need to ensure that the accused are punished,’’ said Jayant Jain, president of the Forum For Fairness in Education.
Echoing his views, Arundhati Chavan, president of the PTA United Forum said, “If possible, parents who are homemakers can volunteer and take turns to accompany kids in the buses. One parent per school bus should be appointed and the parent should sit in the school bus till the last child is dropped safely.’’