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Preschools are children’s first formal training centre that they visit just after being taught basic things at home, it makes this novel learning experience vital so does the safety associated to it, writes Rashi Aditi Ghosh of Elets News Network (ENN).

ankit-taterPreschool is such an important phase in a child’s life when he or she gets exposed to a structured setting of learning comprising trainers (teachers) and children. It’s first unique experience for the child to learn to share, follow instructions to start off laying the foundation of education that begins in elementary school.

Concern for Safety Safety is the form of being protected. It is extremely important to provide the child with a safe and secure environment predominantly at the preschool level when the child is most vulnerable to various abuses.

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Considering the possibilities of various forms of abuses that children can fall victim to, it becomes crucial to ensure a safe and secured environment for them at a place, where they cannot be under the watchful eyes of parents.

Building a safe and secured learning environment, identifying the pupils who are in distress or at a risk of harm and ensuring a swift and suitable action are vital components to confi rm the little ones remain safe all the times.

Be it within the school campus or the school transport, children require safety everywhere.

“Today preschools are coming up in each locality and each school has a substantial number of students,” said Ankit Tater, Director, iSuraksha Solutions Private Limited. “Except for some preschools, safety of children remains to be taken seriously. They along with parents are choosing safety over money.”

“Many parents are unconcerned about spending money on entertainment but when schools are approaching them to pay `100 per month extra for security, they start complaining about it or not accepting it at all,” he added.

Expressing concern over security at preschools, Deven Khullar, Chairman, Brats n Cuties, said: “The security of the children is always the foremost concern for any preschool, knowing the fact that parents have entrusted their invaluable treasure (kids) with us and most importantly before the child can learn, he should be feeling safe. For parents’ satisfaction, we have given them the Live relay of their child’s classroom. Radiofrequency identification cards (RFID) are provided for the auto Short Message Service (SMS) generation at the time of check-in and check out of the child from the school premises. Also, whatsapp reporting is done to let the parent know about the activities done in class on daily basis.”

Grim reality of inflating crime against kids
Rape and incest
According to National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) report for 2015, 8,800 cases of rape and incest on children were registered across India under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).

Corporal Punishment
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), having about 15,000 schools affiliated with it, has reported there are sporadic complaints of punishment to students in CBSE affiliated schools.

In 2007, the Ministry of Women and Child Development released a study report on child abuse which said every two of the three school children reported facing corporal punishment.

This National Study on Child Protection Mechanisms (NSCPM) echoes that it is the responsibility of the schools to have a written child protection policy as schools are considered one of the safest places for children.

Fire safety at schools
According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) 2014, 853 children aged under 14 died in fire accidents. There were many horrific instances where several children were killed and many had grievance injuries.

Major instances of school fire accidents
On 16 July, 2004, Kumbakonam (Tamil Nadu) school fi re accident nearly 94 students were killed.

On 23 December 1995, 170 school students were killed in a fire at DAV Public School at Mandi Dabwali, a town in Sirsa district, Haryana.

Explaining about the safety preparedness, Raj Singhal, CEO – Footprints Preschool, said, “It is very important to have audits and surveillance vigorously done at the preschool-level. We have installed CCTVs everywhere and the live feed is broadcasted to parents. Our staff is very well-trained. They are screened for past criminal and medical records and we have tied up with agencies for this screening.”

Safe Transportation
School children are also subjected to life threatening road accidents across the nation as safety guidelines by the Supreme Court of India are fl outed by educational institutions.

Safety guidelines given by the Supreme Court of India for school buses:

? “School Bus” must be written on the back and front of the bus.
? If it is a hired bus, “On School Duty” should be clearly indicated
? Bus must have a First-Aid-Box.
? The windows of Bus must be fitted with horizontal grills.
? There must be a Fire Extinguisher in the Bus.
? School Name and Telephone No. must be written on the Bus.
? The doors of the Bus should be fitted with reliable locks.
? To keep School Bags safely, there should be a space fitted under the seats.
? There must be an Attendant from the School in the Bus.
? Any parent/guardian or a teacher may also travel to ensure these safety norms.

“We all (PlaySchool owners) need to understand the psychology of parents, they are young parents and the way their child is getting departed for the first time from them so are the parents from their wards. We, at Little Leaders, understand this and right from management level to bottom level we train our staff to ensure the way we handle the kids’ feelings. Similarly, we need to satisfy parents’ feeling,” said Anu Gupta, Director, Little Leaders Play School.

Mentioning about the preparedness and arrangements, Gupta of Little Leaders Play School, said, “To address the issue, we introduced modern technology at every step so that parents always feel in control. The parents who send their kids via cab always worry about their child’s safety. For this, we have GPS trackers and if any parent wants we can provide them exact locations of the cabs. Second, they wish to see what their child is doing in school or daycare for that we have CCTVs with live feed access to the parent. So one of the parents will get the access, enabling them to watch their kids live no matter where they are.”

anu-guptaAccording to Amar Kapasi, Co Founder, Planet Kids said surveillance is very important these days as a basic thing in terms of safety measures, in the wake of untoward incidents happening at various schools in country. “CCTV cameras and police verified employees are the basic measures which need to be taken to ensure the children remain in safe environment. Also the staff needs to be regularly sensitised about handling the children with utmost care and dignity.
Even the children need to be educated about good and bad touch at an early age.”

Suggested Solutions: Suggested measures that can be taken for students’ safety include:

? Child friendly infrastructure
? Proper Parent authorisation cards to ensure the child is being handed over to right parent.
? Security cameras installation in premises
? Restricted visitors’ access areas
? GPS tracking system in school transport
? Keeping a check on help staff
? Putting a fire exit plan in place

Ensuring attendance system at multiple points from boarding of bus in morning till drop off in afternoon, updating about any deviation in routine immediately to parents and school via messaging services can be some other measures.

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