After Ryan Incident, Parents Rethink Safety Measures in Schools
Instead of ACs and a swanky building, here’s what parents should consider while selecting a school for their kids.
“While I was making the rounds of schools to get my child admitted, the first thing that struck me at a particular school was the lack of ACs in the classrooms. Arey aapne AC ni lagwaaya (Oh, you haven’t installed ACs), I asked the management. Now, of course, all of that has changed for me,” said Nihal*, a Delhi-based parent.
For Nihal, and several other parents in Delhi-NCR, the merciless murder of a 7-year-old in Gurugram’s Ryan International School by the school bus conductor has shaken them up.
What the school is actively doing to keep its premises safe for the kids is now far more important than air conditioned classrooms. A swanky building is not priority anymore but the fortification of the school is. “The fact that safety is a given, when we pay the fees in schools, has changed for us,” Nihal* said.
Parents Should Review the School’s Safety Records
A group of parents, whose children study at an elite school in Noida, have collated a list of security measures that they want the school to adhere to.
Taking a cue from the list and suggestions by parents like Nihal*, here is a list of things that the parents think should be top priority for guardians while looking to get their kids admitted to schools.
- Presence of CCTV cameras in the campus and also somebody who monitors them
- Presence of CCTV cameras inside school buses
- Different washrooms for junior school students, senior school kids, teachers and the staff
- The height of the railings in the school campus and whether windows grilles are enough to keep small children from falling off
- Adult supervision – Children should not be allowed to be alone in areas like the old assembly area, free play zone, swings and other secluded spots in the school
- Identification cards for support staff and the availability of their numbers – just like parents swipe their identification tags when they enter and exit school, so should the support staff
What’s on Parents’ Minds Now?
Nishtha, a Noida-based single parent, admits to being paranoid about her child’s safety.
For me the proximity of the school to my workplace and home is extremely important. Getting the contact details of the driver and the conductor of the bus my daughter travels in gains significance, especially after the Ryan incident.Nishtha, parent
Nishtha, whose daughter was admitted at Noida’s Genesis School only a few weeks back, also had other considerations on her mind.
“Things like how far is the nearest medical centre or how secure are the boundary walls of the school were important when I got her admitted,” she says.
The Contentious Issue of CCTV Cameras
Delhi-based Sandeep’s children study in Mayur Vihar’s Ahlcon Public School. Recently, in a meeting with the school management, he suggested that CCTV cameras be installed inside washrooms.
“My point is that you install the cameras near the wash basin and position it in a way that it does not invade the privacy of the students inside the urinals. The camera will obviously act as a deterrent,” he says, adding that apart from placing cameras in the campus, a constant monitoring of the footage is equally important.
But Vaishali, a Noida-based journalist, begs to differ. “A lot of the kids who take up gym sessions or swimming classes change in the washrooms, and not necessarily inside the urinals. You can’t have a camera there,” she asserts.
For Vaishali, the Ryan school incident underlines the need for having a stringent and well-monitored hiring policy, both for teachers and the support staff. “I think what parents should look at is the process of hiring the staff in these schools. Are the support staff trained after being hired? Is there a proper verification check on the drivers and conductors? What protocols have been put in place if a child reports something to the teacher?”
As soon as Vaishali mentioned these checks, she reminded me that for parents it’s not always practically possible to ensure these while getting their children admitted. “But beggars can’t be choosers. In some cases, the parents are just happy they got their kids admitted, you know?,” she says, with a sense of helplessness.
*name changed on request
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