Mumbai schools to tackle sex abuse at premises

With cases of sexual abuse being reported in various city schools, principals and teachers look for solutions to ensure the safety of their students 

The increase in cases of child abuse in schools has led to many principals and school managements to seek expert help in tackling this issue. Shikshan Katta, the education wing of Yashwantrao Chavan Shikshan Pratishta, will soon bring together principals and management trustees from different schools to discuss topics such as how to hire staff among other things.

Schools say they are anxious after recent cases of sexual abuse involving school staff. Pic for representational purpose only

Basanti Roy, member of Shikshan Katta, told sunday mid-day, “All school heads are worried for the safety of their students. Incidents in the recent past have shown that in most cases, the culprit was a member of the school staff.

This is a dangerous trend.” She added that most principals are anxious to find a way to ensure that a clear message goes out to the staff about the code of conduct and zero tolerance of the school against child abuse, at the time of hiring. “Schools will have to hold regular sessions with their staff to explain to them the ramifications of the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act,” added Roy.

Recently, two schools in the city reported cases of their students being molested by the cleaning staff. One of these schools had hit headlines in January 2013 after their school bus cleaner was arrested for sexually molesting a four-year-old student. Many schools have since set up CCTV cameras within the school premises.

In some schools, special care has been taken to ensure that teaching as well as non-teaching staff is aware of how to behave with children. “Teachers have been asked to refrain from touching a child. There are times when teachers tend to behave like parents and end up holding and hugging students. We have asked our teachers to refrain from doing so, to ensure that no student or parent gets the wrong signal,” said the principal of a Navi Mumbai school. She added that this has been a school rule ever since they started the institution.

Jesuit Schools of Mumbai recently conducted training sessions in their schools for all staff members on how to handle children without touching them.

“We will talk to schools principals as well as other experts about the possible solutions that can be easily implemented to avoid such cases in the future. Minutes of this meeting will then be shared with the education department as well as other schools,” added Roy.

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