Safe.

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.

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11 thoughts on “Safe.

  1. I hadn’t heard about the Banglaore rape you are referring too. Schools have a duty of care to the students during school hours — whether they are within school premises or on an excursion with the school. I used to work in a school and I know the school was held responsible for anything that happened…even if say an intruder were to walk on to school grounds and assault a student. IT’s appalling the school in Bangalore is trying to hush things up! Reminds me of a recent SVU episode I saw where young boys were sexually assaulted by a male teacher but it was hushed up to keep the reputation of the school going. For this 6 year old, a lot of people have a lot to answer for! I can totally understand how you feel about your daughter staying safe — you are entrusting her to the school after all.

    • Exactly, how can a school just refuse to own responsibility for what happens on it’s premises… It’s beyond me. And it’s also an indication of mindset and the belief that they can get away with it. I do hope the outrage and anger will force the government to take some strict and enduring action. Short term action is no use, really.

  2. Yes..you know it was funny once when I had to go to a school because of some incident.. I was on duty and in uniform still I had. To show my I’d ..and meet the head teacher first.. to tell her why I was there.. where I was from.. and only then I started the work I had come for..

    What I am trying to say is security is taken care of as most important…

    Exactly, and that’s how it should be, isn’t it? I mean, follow the protocols, they are there for a reason

    Sad at what happened in Bangalore..I mean I don’t beleive the school does not know who did what.. someone knows something but as usual no one is ready to speak up.and the school management is taking advantage of that.

    It’s sad that the school isn’t taking this as seriously as they should. I’m appalled at their attitude

    I hope parents of other children.do.something and take their kids out of the school how safe are their kids..now..

    Such sad incident I feel like findig who the culprit is hanging them in.public..

    Seriously! People like this deserve it!

  3. It’s the scariest thing ever. School is one place I felt I could put my kids and be reassured of their safety. In fact Vibgyor, in Pune at least, is known to have great after school day care services too. How will any parent ever be comfortable leaving their child there? Or anywhere else for that matter? The authorities really need to do something drastic. Building trust is not a day’s job.

    • I know! It’s such a scary state of things.. If schools can’t take responsibility for their wards, in their supervision, how on earth are we, as parents, going to leave our children at school.

  4. Unfortunately, a lot of private schools exist to make money, not educate…As such, they are not interested in children per se, but the money they bring in. So, reputation and how many students they can get are important, not the safety of their wards. That us not to say that government schools are any better. They are worse but at least they are not businesses. I don’t know what they are.

    • Couldn’t agree more.. it’s a sad situation where we send our children to places where they refuse responsibility of the children.. and what choice do we have? Homeschooling? Even that isn’t the easiest or even practical for most of us.

  5. The fact that the school took no action and sought to cover up the crime is outrageous and disgusting!! It was really sickening to see the whole episode unfold the last few days!

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