That’s what my daughter feels in her school. I asked. I keep asking, actually. As a parent, more than how much they ‘teach’, I worry about how happy she feels at school. And fingers crossed she will continue to feel that way.
About a year ago, when my daughter was moving from Infant to Junior school (infant schools are uptil year 2, and junior schools from year 3 to year 6), we had a parent’s evening at the new school. The head teacher said something that stayed with me,’ Thank you for entrusting us with your children, we will endeavor to keep them safe and do the best we can to ensure that they are in a safe and happy environment’.
Across multiple pamphlets, we got the message about safety of children, and how that was paramount for the school. It made me feel comfortable. Of course, anything could happen, but the fact that the school kept reinforcing safety and the fact that while at school, the children were the school’s responsibility, makes you feel a tiny bit more secure. It helped there are rules, children are made aware of, of stranger danger, personal space and publicly lauded for being alert and aware of people around them. That coupled with reinforcement from home, about the dangers lurking around, is all we can do to try to keep our children safe. We can’t ensure safety at all times, but we can try, at the very least.
Contrast that with the school in Bangalore(VIBGYOR), and the way it dealt with the rape of their 6 year old student. It makes me want to throw up as I read the details. One horror after the other, and even worse, the school refuses to own any responsibility for a rape that happened during school hours, by the school staff, and was hushed up by the school staff. Even if you assume that the school had nothing to do with it, it was all done by the staff, one has to wonder what kind of culture is the school management encouraging, 1. By having staff of this sort, 2. By not taking action when it does find out about this. Makes me wonder, what kind of ‘education’ can a school like this impart.
I just hope that this translates into some sort of action that sees schools taking their responsibility seriously. In a lot of countries, you have to undergo a series of checks before you are allowed to work with children. Even with checks like that, criminals do slip through the net, so it makes me wonder how much easier it must be in a place where there is no such method in place? I know for a fact that even as a parent if I want to volunteer at school here, I have to get that criminal check done.
I know parents who complain about it, about living in a paranoid society, but knowing the sort of things people could do, I have to say, I’ll happily undergo a few more checks, if it means that our children are a tiny bit safer.
I’m just hoping that this incident changes the way schools operate. For that, we need our government to sit up and take notice, to do what it takes to keep our children safe. And for parents who think like this, to think, for once, beyond their own situation. Because while today we might just be worried about a few phone calls, who knows what’s in store for us in the future.