If you're from India, you must be aware of the recent sexual assault of a 6 year old in an international school in Bangalore. As a parent who has trusted her precious with a school, I was totally dismayed to learn this news and wrote to the school even though they had sent a text assuring that they have all possible security measures in place.
Few things I inquired are from the list below. Probably, you can do the same if you are sending or planning to send a child in any school in the country. The school responded appreciably to my queries.
- Do they have CCTV cameras installed in all common areas, classrooms, school bus, cafeteria etc.? More importantly are they being regularly and carefully monitored? For how long they store the tapes?
- How often the electronic equipments are checked for accuracy? In case devices fail, how fast they will do replacement/repair?
- Do they have guards in the exit/entry gates and around the premise?
- Do they log the entry and exit of all visitors, vendors etc.?
- Do they log visitors' vehicle details?
- If any vendors, suppliers and other construction staffs (apart from school's authorized staff) need to enter the premise during school hours, what are the measures taken to avoid the possibilities of untoward incidents?
- Are the gates strictly closed during school hours and any passing through the gates are reported?
During Physical activities:
- Are there separate coaches for physical session for boys and girls? Are girls being trained by female coaches and boys by male coaches? This is very important for primary classes. They are least aware of the dark sides of the society.
- Do they have a class teacher compulsorily accompanying children for sports activities, boarding the school bus etc.?
- If any sessions happening outside the school premises, do they take permission from the parents and will teachers accompany the children?
- Do they have female nurses/doctors to handle girls in case of medical emergencies?
- Do they have separate toilet facility for older boys and girls?
- Are they conducting any basic awareness in the classrooms especially to small children about "bad touch" and "stranger danger"?
- Do they revise such lessons once in a while so that the small kids do not forget it?
- In case any untoward incident happens ( be it anything that probably made the child uncomfortable even if someone touching a secret place knowingly) have they assigned a trusted contact to escalate the issue to? Do they make sure that the person is approachable?
- Have they empowered the older kids to report any suspicious activities they come across?
- Are the ground staffs, transport staff etc. well trained and educated on how to interact with kids? Are they being monitored? Do they know their Dos and Don'ts?
Background of the staff:
- Do they run stringent background verification before hiring every of employees at the school, including teachers, ayas, nurses, bus drivers etc.?
- Do they personally call up the previous institution (where the candidate was working) and inquire the reason behind their quitting?
- How do they do background check? Are there any licensed professional agencies who are tracing and verifying every details? Or done by school admin staff? [[ There are licensed professional agencies who do background verification in India for IT companies. They physically visit the places the person is/was living, police stations to trace back criminal records and they do much more.]]
Pickup and Drop policies:
- What are the drop off and pick up policies in place for the school?
- Are the details of authorized pick up person logged with the school documents and teachers?
- If an unauthenticated person comes to pick the child up, how would the school handle the matter?
- Do they have teachers/admin staff to monitor/accompany children in the school buses?
- Suppose a parent/authorized person is not available to receive the child in the drop off point, what is the policy in place to take the next step?
- In case of an unauthorized pickup [and confirmed with the parents] does the school make sure that the copy of a valid photo ID of the person is kept with the school before releasing the child?
- If a child is absent and the parents have not intimated the same to teachers, what are the measures supposed to be taken by the class teachers/other staffs?
Any other security measures taken by school apart from aforesaid.
Please feel free to leave in comment if you have any other points to add to this list.
Apart from these, as parents we must educate our children about "stranger-danger" and "bad touch" and extend all our support to help the school to implement their policies properly.