Pooja Chaudhuri Chaudhuri
The only fiction I enjoy is in books and movies.
In the wake of the murder of a 7-year-old student of Ryan International School, Gurgaon, on Friday, September 8, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) issued a circular on September 12 for the safety of children in schools.
As the children are spending most of their time in school, the concern of parents about the safety of school children is increasing every other day regarding their physical safety, mental and emotional health or child abuse owing to increasing incidents involving safety and well-being of school children. The onus for safety and security of children in school campus shall solely lie upon the school authorities. It is a fundamental right of a child to engage and study in an environment where he/she feels safe and is free from any form of physical or emotional abuse or harassment, read the circular.
On September 8, the body of a 7-year-old student was found inside the toilet of Ryan International School, Gurgaon, less than an hour after his father had dropped him off. He lay in a pool of his blood with his throat slit.
The murder gathered the attention of the entire country with parents protesting outside the premises of Ryan International.
Even as the accused, a 42-year-old conductor associated with the school, confessed to the murder, probe suggests the involvement of others. The family of the conductor maintained that he was being framed and that they were not allowed to meet the family of the boy.
The school was severely condemned for its failure to protect the child and its CEO filed an anticipatory bail application in Bombay High Court. A probe by the police also found that the school tampered with the evidence at the crime scene by wiping off blood from the floor and walls.
A report by a 3-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) said that many of the cameras installed in the school campus were not working. The team also found that the premises had no separate toilets for bus conductors and drivers, which meant that they were using the same toilets as the students. The school had also hired staff without proper probe into their background and police verification.
Keeping the above lack of safety measures in mind, the CBSE directed all of its 19,500 affiliated schools the following:
(a) Get the security /safety audit done of their premises and personnel from their respective local police station and follow the security related advice for the safety of school children. This may be complied and reported online on CBSE website www.cbse.nic.in within 2 months of receipt of this circular.
(b) Install CCTV Cameras at all vulnerable areas/point in the School premises and ensure they are functional at all times.
(c) They must get the police verification and psychometric evaluation done for all the staff employed. Such verification and evaluation for non-teaching staff such as, bus drivers, conductors, peon and other support staff may be done very carefully and in a detailed manner.
(d) Ensure that supporting staff is employed only from authorized agencies and proper records are maintained.
(e) To constitute a parent-teacher-students committee to address the safety needs of the students and to take regular feedback from parents in this regard.
(f) The access to school building by outsiders should be controlled and visitors monitored.
(g) To provide training and development for staff to address their responsibilities to protect children from any form of abuse.
(h) The school shall constitute separate committees for redressal of public/staff/parents/students grievances, Internal Complaints committee on sexual harassment and committees under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offence) Act, 2012 and details of the these committees along with contact details shall be displayed prominently on School Notice Board and conspicuously on the school website for information of all stakeholders.
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