Mandatory SAFETY AUDIT in every school in India.
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This petition is for all parents for whom it is nothing more precious than their child. As a mother I am constantly worried if my daughter is safe and in the right hands or not. Since birth we take care of our child as if it’s a piece of our heart in front of us. We celebrate every moment with them and wait for the day when they start school..but wait I am not prepared for this now! I am not sure whether I should sent my daughter to school at all.
There is no bigger grief in life than losing your own child and here we are witnessing such crimes every few days. Authorities, government will just give some lame excuse and forget it in few days. It will be in media for few days and have a silent exit. There has been alarming increase in the number of cases every year relating to child abuse and school safety standards. I am sure we have many questions on that.
Yet again another horrifying incidence in our country. I request you all to see the 7 year kid's photo and just give a pause to think. It can happen to anyone of us, anywhere, anytime!
I urge that the HRD Ministry to make it mandatory for every school to conduct periodic audits to check basic security measures in every school in India.
There should be a panel/ body to monitor such audits in school. Once a school complies by the audit parameters they should be awarded a certification.
Only the certified schools should be allowed to run their business. This is just like to check our daily food items, electronics etc whether they are certified for their purity, safety etc. As parents we invest in toxins free products for our kids since birth, the question here is- Why not a school should be certified for its safety standards? If schools are found guilty same should be banned for next academic session so that existing students get time to move to other schools. They should be heavily penalized and stopped for operations.
These audits should be made mandatory across schools in India as well as the day care centres.
Here are some of the insights that I thought was important to cover. Please feel free to contribute yours and we shall take it to HRD ministry of India by way of a petition.
1. Safety audits to check whether the staff, non staff, vendors hired by the school have their background verification checks completed or not. Also a psychological assessment done at the time of hiring to ensure that the person is not suffering from any chronic mental disorder, in short a ‘Psyschopath’. In this recent case the sinner was carrying a knife to school which means he was capable and had an intention to hurt someone. A deranged person or from a criminal background would carrying a knife would have been easily identified. There has been several cases of sexual harassment in school premises and transport buses too. Trust me..a sane person would not ever try to kill or abuse an innocent kid.
2. Safety Audits for CCTV Cameras in Private schools. Most Private schools claim to have all security measures like CCTV, GPS etc. Hence this is applicable for all private schools-
i. Safety audits to check whether the functioning of CCTV, GPS, Lifts, basic security measures like alarms etc are serviced by the school on regular basis or not. Whether they are under AMCs and are renewed timely or not. In the recent case yet again the CCTV was not functioning outside the washroom.
ii. The CCTV covering all school areas should be monitored 24 hours in a control room set up. I have personally seen cases where the CCTV is installed, only the principal has the access to it but he/she is hardly watching or monitoring it and that’s where the need for a control room arises. In the recent case if someone was monitoring the CCTV areas then the kid might have been saved.
3. Safety Audits to check the school structure, areas like washroom are not deserted so a kid is totally left at his own risk when he uses one. In the recent case noone could hear the screams of the 7 year old boy.
4. Safety audits to check whether the school is equipped to cater medical urgencies like basic first aid, sick room, doctor on call or in school premises during working hours. Lately a parent lost their son due to medical negligence by school.
5. Safety Audits to check basic amenities whether offered to school staff, vendors. Separate washrooms and cafeteria for outsiders. Why the hell was the bus conductor using the same toilet as the kid? It's nothing better than a public toilet then.
6. Safety Audits to check Special areas like swimming pool, bus, washrooms, water tanks where the child is all alone or can hurt himself should have school assistance both male and female. Just like we guard shopping malls escalators for any unfortunate incident. Few months back a kid was found dead in the water tank and no one in the school had a clue.
7. Safety Audits to check whether Alarm and panic buttons across in washrooms where the child is unattended, just like we have in cabs nowadays. The alarm button should be directly linked to Principal and concerned teacher’s mobile number so they are first to know that there is an urgency.
8. Safety Audits to ensure that mandatory education on bad touch to kids is given to kids. And they are encouraged to follow whistle blower policy in school so that any suspicion should be highlighted immediately.
9. Safety Audits to ensure that an identified staff who would only be responsible for safety checks in school, say a Safety Coordinator/ Manager i.e. Medical facilities, Non teaching staff entering school premises, bus security. He/ She should be liable for maintaining audit certifications, any lapses therein and answerable to parents for any related query.
10. Safety Audits to ensure that there is a safety council in school with parents as mandatory members. The consent of the parents should be mandatory in this council for any change in decisions, process awareness etc. This is to ensure that the school better keep the parents informed about any and everything they are doing to ensure kids safety. Normally parents are assured that school has all possible facilities but they are usually lies.
The safety council can do various things like:
i. Parents are free to visit the school and witness up keeping of the safety standards maintaining a charter.
ii. Anonymous feedback box system to be maintained so that any parent/ student can raise an issue about a fellow student/ staff etc.
iii. All the feedback to be shared with all the parents and the resolution provided to it.
iv. Parents get regular updates on the school safety upkeeping and anything new introduced, say opening of a new swimming pool but whether it has life guard/ attendants near the pool area all the time or not.
v. Regular PTA for open discussions/ feedback
11. Safety Audit to check mainly for Primary classes like Pre nursery/ Nursery to have maximum safety standards like door stoppers, switch board on heights and covered, separate low rise toilets with attendants always etc. I am sure we have heard of incidences where a daycare student lost her finger after getting stamped between heavy door.
12. At last, the school should be given certificates after it passes the mandatory school auditory measures on a regular basis, so that it doesn't leave a room for them to be casual. If they are found guilty for any lapses then their certification should me cancelled with immediate effect.
I hope all these above points will lead us to a better and safe school environment for our kids.
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