'Schools share blame in sexual crimes within their premises'

During the hearing of the rape case of a four-year-old girl in a Ghatkopar school, MSCPCR secretary A N Tripathi said that the school principal and trustee’s names should also be included in the POCSO Act in such crimes

The alarming increase in the number of cases of children being sexually assaulted within school premises, by school employees, has once again raised concerns among authorities.

The number of cases of students being sexually assaulted on school premises has been on the rise. Representation pic
The number of cases of students being sexually assaulted on school premises has been on the rise. Representation pic

The Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) heard the recent case of the rape of a four-year-old girl by the supervisor of a Ghatkopar school on Friday. The commission stressed on the urgent need to curb these instances within, what is considered the ‘safe confines’ of schools.

“When parents send their kids to a school, they trust school authorities to keep them safe. When a management decides to start a school, they should be well aware of this responsibility. How can schools not take precautions to ensure the complete safety of their students?” asked A N Tripathi, the secretary of MSCPCR.

Referring to the cases that have been reported in the city in the last two years, including incidents of molestation in school buses, during school trips and within school premises, he said, “Maximum cases have been reported in Mumbai and Pune, and yet schools are doing next to nothing to curb this menace.”

While the commission is yet to release an order on this issue, Tripathi emphasised on the need for schools to draw out an effective plan, along with other authorities, and have an effective system in place. “Principals of schools should collaborate with the police, as well as education officials, and chalk out rules and regulations on the hiring process for their employees.

There should be an identity verification process with the help of the police,” said Tripathi. Schools have already been directed to hire personnel for their school buses only after verifying the individual’s criminal history with local police. The secretary also insisted on the need for counsellors in every school to help children (survivors and others) after such incidents.

‘Admin also guilty’
“In the order, the commission will also insist including the names of the school’s principal and trustee under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, to make them equally responsible for these incidents.

It is unfair that they get away with just suspending the accused and moving on, without doing anything to prevent such incidents from repeating in the future,” he said.

In case of the incident in the Ghatkopar school, while the school has suspended the supervisor, who is in judicial custody, the police is yet to file a chargesheet. “The new rules clearly state that any case filed under the POCSO Act has to be chargesheeted within 60 days.

In this case, the police is still waiting for documents to file the same, which is a violation of the law,” said Tripathi. Police officials have been asked to submit their reply to the commission by the end of next week.

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