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MSCPCR head on Thane school bus molestation case: School can't shrink accountability

Updated on: 26 February,2024 04:10 PM IST  |  Thane
mid-day online correspondent |

On February 20, when pupils from Thane's private school went to a mall in Ghatkopar, a bus attendant molested children under pretence of serving them food

MSCPCR head on Thane school bus molestation case: School can't shrink accountability

Group of parents gathered at the school premises after incident came to light/ Rajesh Gupta

Susieben Shah, Chairperson of the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR), criticised the recent incident in which students were molested inside a bus on a school excursion to a mall, calling it highly unsettling. Shah emphasised that schools must take decisive action to prevent such incidents in the future, reported PTI. 

"In this disturbing episode, the school management is fully responsible. There is a need to create a child-friendly atmosphere in schools. The school management must publicly acknowledge that it failed in fulfilling its responsibility," she told reporters, according to the PTI report.

The event occurred on February 20, when pupils from Thane's private school went to a mall in Ghatkopar, Mumbai. A police inquiry was begun following a complaint by a female student against the bus attendant, which resulted in his arrest. In addition, some school employees were sacked, the report further stated.

According to the report, Shah claimed that the school administration bears full responsibility for the tragedy and advocated for the creation of a child-friendly environment in educational institutions. She emphasised that protecting kid safety is a key responsibility of school administration that goes beyond simply issuing permission for outings.

During a news conference, Shah announced plans to expand the 'Bal Suraksha Abhiyan' (child protection campaign) throughout the state's educational institutions. She promised to advise the victims and their parents while personally overseeing the probe. Shah also emphasised the need to match standard operating procedures (SOP) with their practical application in order to reduce disparities, the PTI report stated. 

"The victims in the February 20 incident as well as their parents will be counselled. I will personally monitor the investigation. Discrepancies between standard operating procedures (SOP) and their implementation on the ground will have to be removed," she said.

Instead of imposing bans, Shah pushed for comprehensive kid safety measures on school outings. She also expressed concern over the "commercialisation" of schools, emphasising the importance of putting children's well-being and safety first.

What transpired?

On February 20, the students of Grade 2, studying at a posh school in Thane, were taken to picnic through Adventure Education Tours, While returning from their excursion, the bus attendant sexually harassed the kids aged between 7-8 years. 

“The incident took place when the kids were returning to Thane. There was a group of 40 students on the bus, all in the age group of 7 to 8 years. The girls claimed that on the pretext of giving sweets and food, the bus attendant had sexually assaulted them,” said a police officer.

With PTI inputs

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