Make sure that school is the safest place after home
The recent sexual assault and murder of a 7-year-old child in Gurugram's Ryan International School has raised questions over the security lapses at the school. No matter how protected a child is at home, their safety at school is not to be taken lightly. Café speaks to a few parents about their concerns and how they keep a tab on their child in school
A simple question– ‘How was your day at school?’ – usually gets a lengthy reply as your child explains what they did for the whole day – their interactions with their teachers, classmates, helpers and even the driver and conductor of their school bus. Despite being a daily practice, it is important for parents to pay keen interest to this narration, every day for the parents’ responsibility towards the safety of their child extends to when they are in school. With the recent sexual assault and murder of a 7-year-old child in Gurugram's Ryan International School, parents in Goa too have started reassessing the safety of their children.
Robert D’Mello from Pirna is a very protective father to Myron and Rachel. While Myron is a student of St Britto’s High School, Mapusa, Rachel is studying at St Ann's, Tivim– both at quite a distance from the village. The news of the gruesome murder came as a shock for the D’Mello family as it fuelled questions about the safety of children in school. “As a parent, the safety of my children greatly worries me, even when they are at school. We do advise them about not talking to strangers and telling them to stay in groups even in school, but there is a lot more than is lacking in schools. I always ask the children about how their day was. Nowadays, it's not safe anywhere. There are certain days when parents are allowed to meet teachers and we make sure we attend these meetings,” says Robert, who calls up the driver in case he is delayed in picking up or dropping the children. He has also saved the contact details of the school and the parents of a few classmates of his children to be well informed.
He further adds, “It should be compulsory for school management to keep a security guard at the gate and even some guidance should be given to the children by experts on safety measures. They should install CCTV cameras at the main locations of the school for better vigilance.”
Shiba Rodrigues from Vasco is the mother of primary students Riya and Ryan, who are studying at St Andrew’s Institute, Vasco. It was the Vasco Rape case, where a minor girl was sexually abused inside the school toilet in January 2013, that caught her attention. From then on, she knew that the safety of her children is not to be taken for granted. “I drop and pick my children from school and I have warned them to stay clear of any strangers who offer them anything or try to talk to them. Sometimes, if I am late to pick them from school, I send my sister to pick them; even then, my daughter will call me to make sure that I know my sister is there,” says Shiba.
“The school is very safe and there are watchmen at both the gates of the school. Within the school also, there are female helpers to accompany the children to the toilet and besides the students, no one else is allowed to use these toilets. I am an active member of the Parent Teacher Association and it is important for me to know about my children’s teachers and the happenings of the day in school. One good thing about the school is that the children are not allowed to go out, even after school, unless a parent comes to pick them. Even if they are not feeling well, the parent is informed and they are asked to pick the child up,” she adds.
Ranjana Pandit has three of her daughters studying at Santa Cruz High School, St Cruz, with the youngest, Kanchan, in Std VIII. She has full confidence in the safety of the school and with two of her children having passed out from the same school, she has already built a rapport with the teachers. “They use the school bus and I have the driver’s details. He has been driving the bus for years and even my eldest son has travelled in the same school bus. The teachers and headmaster of the school are very protective of the students and if I don’t send my daughter to school for three days, they call me to ask if everything is fine. These are the same teachers that have taught all my children, and over the years, I have bonded with them. I trust the school to take all the safety measures, but even then, as a parent, I worry about my child’s safety in and out of school,” concludes Ranjana.
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