I live in Bangalore and on 17th July 2014, the newspapers, online new media and TV channels were full of a rape of a 6-year old school girl inside the premises of a school of high repute. This sparked a lot of parent outroar and questions on whether schools can wash hands off their responsibilities. Apparently, some schools are making parents sign forms stating that they (the schools, that is) are not responsible for the safety of the children especially in situations like field trips.
The passing the buck game really made me sick to the core – and when I thought about the trauma that the child must have gone through and perhaps, will go through for the rest of her life – I cried.
What can we, as responsible parents, do to mitigate this risk? I’m going to veer away from my usual light-hearted style of blogging and focus today on this serious issue by co-creating a list of things we can use/do to help our children:
- Inform children: Over this weekend, show your children a video explaining bad touch. A good video I’ve seen is http://youtu.be/4KWan3N-yhM
- Educate children: Tell them what they should/shouldn’t do to – for instance, never go alone with an unfamiliar adult anywhere, unless your parents know about it. Never undress in front of anybody apart from parents…and so on.
- Sensitize your environment: Here is where I think schools can play a key role. Teachers can be made to recite an honour code every morning as part of their prayer. Teachers can explain to students what they can do if they face uncomfortable behaviour from an adult.
- Do an audit: Parents should do a background check of their care givers, and schools can do the same for those staff who are outsourced ( for instance, Physical Education). Install CCTV cameras in classrooms perhaps?
- Educate yourself: We must, as parents, arm ourselves with enough accurate information to know how to prevent and how to handle such situations. A good resource is http://csaawarenessmonth.com/
I would encourage all you readers to add your bit to this (hopefully growing) list – I’ve put them up at a collaborative document on Google Drive.