Mumbai: Should teachers or staff accused of child abuse be suspended without pay?
Principals ponder over advisory body's suggestion of suspending teachers or staff accused of child abuse without pay even before probe
Following child abuse cases in various parts of the country and in the city, the Early Childhood Association (ECA), an advisory body has asked all preschools make immediately suspend without pay those teachers accused of abusing children in school, before the investigation starts. However, schools say that the suggestions cannot be implemented in all cases.
"This suggestion might sound unfair, but I think this is the best way to curb the increasing number of cases of child abuse in the city. According to our survey last year, there are around 70 registered cases of child abuse and around 400 such unreported cases in the city. This is high time that the government considers these suggestions and takes immediate action to stop such crimes," said Swati Popat Vats, head, ECA.
In its draft issued on Wednesday, ECA suggests what action a school should take when a teacher abuses a child.
The guidelines suggest making all teaching and non-teaching staff sign a policy that says if parents raise a complaint against the teachers of physical and emotional abuse towards their child, then they will be suspended without pay during the inquiry process.
Another important suggestion was checking the police background before hiring any staff. Vats added, "A teacher or any staffer who abuses a child is always relaxed after the crime if they do not have to face its immediate consequences. Hence, this immediate suspension is very important."
Can't implement in all cases
Though school principals believe a policy is required to handle child abuse cases within the school premises, the unpaid immediate suspension cannot be implemented in all cases. "The unpaid suspension may affect a teacher's career and in case, he/she gets a clean chit post the inquiry, then the school comes in the bad books," said Sushma Sharma, principal of Tree House, Kalyan.
Other principals suggest that an unpaid suspension, prior to the probe, depends on the nature of abuse. "I think it is suitable only for a certain type of abuse. Child abuse done physically requires immediate action, like unpaid suspension while the emotional abuse requires a different set of suggestions," said Shilpa Potnis, principal, Ashok Birla International School, Churchgate.
400 Number of unreported cases of child abuse in the city
70 Number of registered cases of child abuse in the city