Child Safety Matters Most: WB Govt

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Priyanka Dutta, KOLKATA: The recent, unfortunate death of the 7-year-old student at Gurgaon’s Ryan International School has enraged and stunned the nation. However, what is even more disturbing is that it takes the death of a child for us to realise that the issue of child safety is real and that it is not a new concern.

Ministry of Women and Child Development, Prayas, UNICEF and Save the Children in 2007, states that “across the country, every second child was being subjected to other forms of sexual abuse and every fifth child was facing severe forms of sexual abuse.” According to this study, out of 12,447 child respondents across 13 states, more than half (51%) reported being subjected to one or the other form of sexual abuse.

After the brutal murder of a seven year Kejriwal, Mamata slams private schools, sets up regulatory body to check donations.The study further mentions nearly 50% of the school-going children interviewed said they were sexually abused.

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These statistics are disconcerting – and the fact that they are a decade old goes on to show that while the issue has been persistent, the attention given to it has been reactionary at best, with accountability seen as the responsibility of only a few. Child safety is irrefutable. As a society, we need to persistently remember this – and most importantly, take equal responsibility to ensure it.

The Bengal school education department has issued instructions to government and government-aided schools asking them to ensure the safety of their students. CBSE and CISCE have also sent out similar instructions to the schools under their aegis.

The state on September 13 had advised schools to stop allowing outsiders into the school compound. In a letter to the district inspectors of schools, the government urged them to put in place a system which will provide complete protection to students in schools. It is the responsibility of schools to make the child feel comfortable and also throw a safety net around him or her while the child is in the school.

After two incidents of gruesome crimes against children were reported in the National Capital Region last week, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has issued new safety and security guidelines for all schools. The schools will face de-recognition if they don’t follow the guidelines.
“Children are spending most of their time in school, the concern of parents about the safety of school children is increasing every other day. It is a fundamental right of a child to engage and study in an environment where he or she feels safe and is free from any form of physical or emotional abuse or harassment,” the notification said.