Ways in which schools can protect children better

Schools play an important role in moulding the child’s personality and grooming them to become responsible citizens. As they always say, Prevention is always better than cure. It has now become critical that child safety is an important item on every schools agenda and they have a larger role to play to ensure the safety of all their children.

 

  1. Schools should get routine police verification done for every staff they hire. They should also actively follow up on the referrals and conduct background checks to ensure that the person has not been fired from any of the previous jobs for bad behavior.
  2. When children participate in any extra-curricular activities after school, besides schools could getting a written consent from the parents of such children to stay extra hours after school, schools could also have  a lady teacher for monitoring the said practice on a rotational basis. While it may seem like a sexist policy to have, it is a fact that sex offenders are mostly male.
  3. The schools should be vigilant about all visiting faculty. These tend to be mostly the non-core staff with whom the regular staff do not have interaction all the time and are mostly unknown.  The time in and time out should be documented properly for such irregular faculty like coaches/specific skill instructors etc.
  4. Conduct regular workshops and awareness programs for children and for parents too. Certain organizations like Enfold have been conducting these workshops at schools. These have to be made a regular feature.
  5. Schools need to create a child safety committee. Many times, schools tend to be on hyper drive when a particular incident comes to light and then after a couple of months, it is all forgotten until the next incident crops up. Instead, the school should have an on-going committee that is constantly thinking of ways and means to make the school a safer place for the children. It should be their agenda to think of workshops, activities and infrastructural improvements that can be made keeping safety top on everybody’s mind.
  6. School Counselor: While this is a common practice in developed countries, most schools in India do not have a counselor. It would be great if schools had a counselor on staff who can be reached out at any time by students in case they want to discuss something that is bothering them at school. This could be anything from playground bullying to unwanted sexual advances by a particular teacher. Children should be made to feel that this person could be their go to for any help. A child psychologist might be a good fit for this role. This might be helpful for children who are hesitant to talk to their own class teachers or feel intimidated by them. A friendly counselor at the school premises can help a child talk through their fears and possibly catch a problem before it manifests as a crime.

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