DNA/Amberish K Diwanji
Ever since the molestation of a three-year-old child of a premier city school, in a school bus, parents have been agonising over the safety of their school-going children.
What compounds the problem, is that in many cases where both the parents are working the child goes from the school to a creche, or is received at home by a grandparent or a maid.
It is likely that in such a situation, the child may not talk about what s/he suffers as the parents are not there. In the Juhu case last week also it has come to light that the child was molested even before
Parents are discussing various measures with school managements, like one of the parents travelling on the school bus and car-pooling to take kids to school. But this will be possible only when a parent is available to undertake this job.
It is ironic that in the 21st century, we are perhaps going backwards, by expecting the parents (in all likelihood the woman) to stay at home to ensure the child`s safety. And this is simply because our schools, the government and society at large cannot guarantee the safety of our children once they go outside the house.
We must look for long-term solutions instead of some quick fix. The focus has to be on prevention rather than punishment. We must realise that when the culprit commits the crime he is not thinking about the penalty for the act. If at all, he might be a bit concerned about the likelihood of getting caught.
Another way to try and cut down crimes, is to give the potential criminal a stake in the welfare of the children. In the case of the Juhu school, it had outsourced the bus service and in turn the bus agency hired drivers and conductors to operate its service. Nobody had any stake in the welfare of the children apart from a salary.
In some schools, the children of staff members are also educated at the institution. Educating their children at a top-notch institution can be a big bonus particularly for lower level staff and can create an emotional bond that a salary cannot. Does the Juhu school have such a facility?
There are scores of other measures to make children safe, like the use of technology (CCTV and GPS), shuffling attendants, surprise checks, and so on. All this must be done. For, while we might not be able to totally prevent crimes, we can certainly it more difficult for the culprit to commit a crime. So parents don`t agonise over the safety of their school-going children.
(The story was first published on January 23, 2013 in DNA newspaper)