Sending kids to school has always been a mixed bag of emotions for me. I still remember the excitement when I was getting her ready on the first day of school, but guess what? The moment she left for the school on her school bus, the mother in me started experiencing altogether different feelings – Will she be able to settle down? What if her crying gets out of control? Did she have her lunch? She is too young to know which bus to sit in, what if she gets into another route bus by mistake! And above all, I missed her so much that I couldn’t even enjoy the so called ‘peace’ I envisaged to get in her absence!!! At such times I feel, I suffer from split personalities!!!
However, things have changed over these years. Not that my earlier feelings are gone but they all have been overpowered with just one thing and that is FEAR! Yes, Fear of losing my child, fear of her safety – is my child safe at school, fear of keeping her under someone else’s supervision, in all, the fear of not being with her to make everything right.
The past two years have been terrible for kids in NCR shaking every single parent. These tragic incidents happening after every few weeks here fill me with fear. The number of incidents would be much more but the ones that caught media attention were:
- Jan 2016, 6-Year-Old Divyansh Kakrora, a student of class 1, Ryan International School, Vasant Kunj, Dies After Falling Into School’s Septic Tank in Vasant Kunj area.
- Aug 2016, a 4-year-old student of Presidium School in Gurgaon was raped while she was returning home on the school bus with other children.
- Feb 2017, 7-year-old Gazal Yadav, a student of Class II, DPS World School in Noida Extension died after receiving head injuries allegedly during a karate session.
- Aug 2017, 10-year-old Arman Sehgal, a student of Class 4, GD Goenka School, Indirapuram died after falling on the floor outside his classroom on the second-floor of the building.
- Sep 2017, a 16-year-old student of Class 10, Pathways School, Noida loses 25 per cent hearing ability on being slapped for a bet.
- Sep 2017, 7-year-old Pradumman Kumar, student of Class 2, Ryan International School Gurgaon, found dead in the school toilet with his throat slit open
Every school should be vigilant about the activities happening in the school and enhance the security in secluded areas. These horrific incidents have once again brought to the fore the security concerns of school going children. Though much is not in our hands when our kids are inside the school premises, we can try our best to mentor at our level best and ensure that our child is safe at school.
Here is a quick guide for you to refer and share with other parents too to keep your child safe at school:
- A secure, positive, and comfortable environment is crucial for a child to learn. Encourage your child to be social. It is very important for a child to interact with his teachers and classmates. If your child interacts with you at home but doesn’t interact with his peers or teachers, don’t assume that he must be feeling shy. This can be a red flag stating his discomfort at school.
- Talk to your child about his day at school. There might be times when he doesn’t tell you instantly if he is facing some problem at school. Thus, rather than asking a direct question about ‘how was your day’, ask him indirect questions about if he sees anyone bullied or harassed, or if anyone bullied or harassed him, if anything else made him uncomfortable in the school. Don’t forget to continuously keep a watch on the warning signs, like a sudden change in the child’s behavior, a sudden drop in grades, loss of friends or prefer to remain alone, torn clothing, etc.
- Teach your kids to be empathetic to others. Teach them to resolve problems without fighting and explain them the consequences and severity of fighting. Explain them the various actions they can take in this regard, like try to resolve things by talking, or informing a trusted adult or simply walk away.
- Ask them often about the behavior of the non-teaching staff in school and to religiously follow the golden rule of “not to go anywhere alone”.
- Keep in constant touch with your child’s school and ensure that all the school staff has been duly verified with a proper background check.
- Educate your children on good touch and bad touch and reinforce this constantly. If your child has an older sibling in the same school, educate him to take care of the younger one and accompany each other in the bus.
- Encourage your child to always stay in groups in school and educate all of them to report any missing child immediately to the school teacher.
- Ensure that the school employs more of women security personnel and assistants in the school premises, especially in and around washrooms.
- Keep an eye on your child’s Internet use at home. Also, confirm from school if they have a blocking mechanism to prevent children from finding explicit websites. Discuss with your children often about what they do online, etc. Always give your child the comfort of confiding everything in you, whether it’s about any explicit website, a classmate bullying, someone harassing, etc.
- Enquire the school about its safety and emergency plans, about the emergencies that have been considered and also about the involvement of the local police.
- Constantly educated your kids not to talk to any stranger, go anywhere with them or to take any gift from them. Such a stranger can be anyone, the staff at the school, the guard in your residential society or anyone. The idea is not to scare but to prevent and keep your child safe at school and areas around.
- Help your child in learning your phone numbers and full address, including area code and zip code.
- Don’t forget that often bullying or harassment takes place on the school bus. Ask your children about their bus experience, like who they sit with, talk to, etc. Ask them to confide in you if someone bullies them. Give them the confidence that whatever the matter is, they can always come to you.Tell them that you will always love them and are always there for them!
Remember, nothing is more important than your precious child and his safety is something you really can’t compromise with, even if you need to ask 100 questions!