[ Junroi Mamai ]
There is much anger among people following rising cases of crimes against children in the state and a growing sense of distrust has replaced our belief in our society. The fact that small children are being subjected to such heinous crimes is not only heartbreaking but also raises serious concern over the safety of the many vulnerable children.
Parents have now become more apprehensive about their children’s safety because their child is apparently not safe anywhere. They are worried about sending their children to schools since a number of cases of child abuse are being perpetrated in schools itself.
Often a teacher or a non-teaching staff carries out the abuse embolden by the fact that the child would not dare to speak about the abuse to anyone. Most of the time, the child is not even aware that he/she is being sexually abused.
In the past, there was a particular incident of sexual abuse in a school where a school staff, who was entrusted with the job to look after students used to abuse them. The children were too young to even comprehend that there was something wrong in the way they were being touched. In this particular case, truth came out only after one of the children returned home to her mother one day and complained of abdominal pain.
The perpetrators of such crimes should undoubtedly be awarded the harshest of punishment as per the law. Also the state government needs to plan and implement strong guidelines for all government, private and non-government organization-run schools in the state to ensure safety of children and to put a stop to such abuse.
To begin with, the state government could ensure strict implementation of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) issued new safety and security guidelines for all schools, failure of adhering to which will result in de-recognition of the school.
According to the CBSE directive, all schools need to ensure that support staff was employed only from authorised agencies and proper records are maintained. Moreover, verification and evaluation of non-teaching staff such as bus drivers, conductors, peon and other staff support should also be done very carefully and in a detailed manner.
The directives also call for safety audit for schools which may be done by the respective local police stations, installations of CCTV cameras at all vulnerable areas inside schools and limiting the entry of outsiders.
The CBSE also directs the schools to constitute an internal complaints committee for complaints regarding sexual harassment and committees under Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012.
It further directs that the details of these committees along with contact details should be displayed prominently on school notice boards and conspicuously on the school website for information of all stakeholders.
Growing incidents of child sexual abuse in the state is a matter of grave concern and parents have to ensure that they start teaching their child about good and bad touch from an early age in order to prevent such incidents. For all we know, there could be many more such incidents happening at this very moment in any one of the schools and there is no one to protect those vulnerable children. The thought itself is both terrifying and frustrating at the same time and it should at any rate, prompt those in authorities to take urgent steps for the sake of the children.