Safety first: From CCTV in toilets to daily SMS, Bengaluru police a confused lot

First Published 18, Sep 2017, 11:53 AM IST
Safety first From CCTV in toilets to daily SMS Bengaluru police a confused lot
  • Bengaluru Police has issued an impractical notice to schools to start SMSing parents about the whereabouts of their children.
  • Parents too have been asked to intimate schools of their children's return home.
  • Both school authorities and parents call the measure impractical.

Indeed, child safety in schools has become a topic of debate these days with a spate in the number of kidnappings and rapes within the school premises. However, what adds to the tension is the fact that Bengaluru police is itself confused about the security measures it wishes school administration to take. 

In a recent circular, after directives suggesting CCTV cameras in toilets, the Bengaluru Police urged school management and parents to send SMS to each other pertaining to the child's movements. In other words, the police wants the school managements to introduce an SMS system and updates daily from parents to know whether they have reached home. 

[Watch: Asianet Newsable Exclusive on people's opinions on 'CCTV cameras in toilets']

An impractical solution to a practical problem

How it works is even more impractical. Parents have to send an SMS in the morning after the child leaves for school and the management has to send an SMS to parents once the child leaves school in the evening. Following this, the parents have to inform the school whether the children have reached home.

Both the schools and parents disagree, calling it an impractical way of tackling the issue. A school representative, for instance, cited, "There are over 5,000 students in our school. Do the police expect us to send SMS to all of them every day? And can parents do the same?”

Interestingly, some schools in Bengaluru have issued smartcards to the children, which when swiped at school sends out an automated SMS alert to the parents. But the police seems to be unaware of such arrangements. Moreover, the circular police has issued has its own loopholes. For instance, parents sending out "arrival" messages to school is next to impossible since most of them are working parents and would not be available at home when the children arrive home. It is also not possible for them to bestow the responsibility on the children to send out the message because that gives them the liberty to manipulate about their whereabouts.

Schools have their own contentions. Shashikumar, general secretary of Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools in Karnataka, speaking to the New Indian Express said that it was unjustified to place all the responsibility on the school authorities. He also sought the intervention of the commissioner and advise officers to first know the safety and security norms that are in force already.

Police, however, does not hesitate to play the blame game. The SR Nagar police warned managements that in case of any incident, the school authorities would be held responsible. 

Recent incidents in school that have rocked India

The recent case of Pradyuman's sexual assault and murder shocked India to a great extent. However, this is not a solo case as there have been multiple such cases in Bengaluru too. A 4-year-old was allegedly raped by a support staff in her school. While this happened this year, another case was registered in 2014 when a 6-year-old girl was raped twice by her teacher inside the school campus.

Incidentally, multiple probes and investigations have landed the issue of children's safety nowhere. Police may have come up with various safety regulations and background check protocol for each and every staff of all the schools, little seems to have been done. School authorities continue to hire workers on contract and the police too is unable to act. Numerous circulars on overhauling the security of schools have failed in front of the sexual predators lurching in the school premises. Apparently, there seems to be no solution or an end to the worries of the parents. 

Guidelines set by the police previously

  • School buses should appoint a male and a female staff to accompany students till they are dropped at their doorsteps. Buses should have GPS and CCTV devices, which should be functional always. Managements should verify driving licenses of drivers and get information about their antecedents from police.
  • Managements should have written agreements with vehicle owners that owners would be solely responsible for violation of norms by drivers.
  • Managements should issue strict instructions to drivers to stay in vehicles. They should be warned not to move inside school premises and try to drag children into conversation unnecessarily.
  • Concerned teachers and supervisors alone should be present at ground, swimming pool, laboratories, library, dancing hall and gym. There should not be entry to others or unauthorised persons.
  • Managements should appoint Floor Vigilance Officers (FVO). A transparent glass cabin should be set up for them so that they could monitor activities taking place in all directions.
  • CCTVs should be installed, maintained, monitored by exclusive staff and footages stored upto a period of 60 days. If anything special is seen while monitoring the CCTV, that will have to be informed to the concerned.
  • Identity cards with photos of students should be given to parents. Parents should give a specific cell phone number for contacting during emergencies, and the schools should respond to SMS/ queries coming only from such numbers.
  • Identity cards should be given to staff, office-bearers of management, security guards, attenders after verifying their antecedents from police. Everybody should be directed to display ID cards while in school.
  • Management should appoint security guards who will work in three shifts. Security staff should submit report to their heads every two hours about safety status.

It was also said that failure to adhere to the above-mentioned guidelines will be punishable under Section 188 IPC. However, little seems to have been done by the school authorities or by the police officials in monitoring the schools.