Mumbai: In an attempt to prevent any untoward incident, city schools have pulled up their socks to tighten security, initiate new policies, create awareness, conduct counselling sessions, involve parents and build transparency. Schools have moved a step ahead from installing Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in order to help parents and children tackle the fear instilled in their minds.
Involve parents in school activities
Schools stated that they have started involving parents in school activities as the first step to create a secure environment. Fr Francis Swamy, Joint Secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE), which manages over 150 schools in the city, said, “A trust factor between parents and the school is the paramount need. The parents should be constantly made aware about the activities going on in schools only then we can create transparency. We have started constant interaction with parents through the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) by formulating various committees.”
Schools have begun awareness programmes, counselling sessions, informative talks and continuous educative seminars. Rohan Bhat, trustee of Children’s Academy, said, “Schools need to be proactive. Do not wait for things to happen. We are conducting continuous educative and counselling sessions for peons, clerks, mavshis, watchmen, all teaching and non-teaching staff, principals and even parents. These programmes are being conducted on a regular basis so that the there is a sense of awareness and security.”
Stringent recruitment process
A continuous audit of the staff and thorough background check is essential while recruitment in schools as per experts. A principal of a school in western suburbs said, “The staff should be hired only after a stringent recruitment process. In addition, there should be a continuous audit process to keep a close watch on the staff. Dealing with children is a sensitive issue and we need to take utmost care all the time. It is not a joke and we cannot just let things happen around us.”
Tighten security personnel
Schools have tightened security in and around the school premises. Some schools are even increasing more of female staff and security personnel. Fr Swamy said, “All the visitors even bus drivers or parents who enter the school premises should be allowed only through an identity card.” While, another teacher said, “The security personnel should be tightened as children need to feel safe. Presence of security personnel might disturb some students but it is the need of the hour as areas like toilets, washrooms and playgrounds too need to have security.”
Good touch and bad touch
Schools have introduced initiatives to educate students about good touch and bad touch right from an early age. “We have been conducting Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) workshops in schools for all the staff. Also, counselling and informative sessions are being conducted to educate students about good touch and bad touch,” Bhat added.