How to Prevent Child Abuse in Schools? Lessons in School Safety

There has been an alarming increase in the incidents of sexual abuse in Schools and Pre-Schools across India in the recent days. There have been many incidents in various cities since the beginning of this year across the country – in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon…the latest one ending in the spine chilling murder of a 7 year old.

In almost all cases, the culprit is a person within the system – be it a peon, a driver, a bus conductor, an instructor, etc.

As a parent we cringe every time we hear about such heinous crimes and we are always worried about the safety and security of our loved ones. The Children are torn between the image of a school as a temple of learning at one hand versus the image of a school as a place where perverts lurch to pounce on innocent victims.

As educationalists, schools management and leadership in the education industry, we are concerned about the bad press and lose of hard earned credibility.

But post the initial knee jerk reactions around specific incidents, the fact remains that life goes on and such incidents continue to reoccur, unfortunately.

Currently, the Supreme Court is looking into the issue of safety and security in the private schools, but as we wait for the verdict, I feel there are 3 things that every school should do to address this problem :

  1. Implement a fail-safe system to ensure that there is no scope for “secluded” one-one interaction between the adults and children. Secluded interactions are golden opportunities for
    perverts, especially when the victim is a naive helpless kid.
  2. Background verification of your staff – both teaching and non-teaching. Remove people who have had past antecedents. More importantly, there should be a mechanism to have a central
    repository because in 99.99% of the cases people who commit crimes in 1 place are hired in another place ignorant of their heinous past.
  3. Help to provide a better life for your non teaching/support staff. Reward guys that are trust worthy. Of-course, you need to take care of the teaching staff as well, but it is even more
    important for the non teaching and support staff because for one reason : they come from the section of our society which is “deprived” of a lot of things that is taken for granted by you
    and me. This leads to lots of challenges at the work place.

In our experience and from the insights we derived from the data of more than 5,00,000 blue and grey collar workers that we have worked with so far, there is a 1-2% who have an un-clean/doubtful background, hence not recommended to be employed by the schools.

Whereas, the high majority 98% are people whom we should be able to trust (of-course, the #1 above about no secluded one-one interaction still holds good). But this majority lacks the means to showcase their trust-worthiness, leading to being treated the same, irrespective of what they do or don’t do. The system is saying that it does not matter whether you are good or bad, we will treat you the same.

Therefore, both from a proactive “weeding out the rogue elements” perspective, as well as a positive “empowering the society” and “rewarding the good guys” perspective, there is a need to know more about this segment. Because currently we treat everybody with the same “doubtful” eye. One incident by a school bus driver in Delhi leads to loss of trust with every school bus driver across the country, and that is just unfair and self fulfilling in itself.

This is where a central trust scoring system that can credit and debit trust based on good and bad behaviour respectively, can make a huge difference.

If you are interested to know more about BetterPlace Digital Trust Platform, and how we can help Schools and Pre-Schools with background verification and other services like training for non-teaching staff in good-touch/bad-touch, english words, hygiene, etc and provide additional services like unsecured loans, insurance, etc.

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