School-specific child safety plans on the anvil

Draft of Child Safety Policy to be ready in two weeks

All schools in the State will soon need to have their own ‘Child Safety Plan’ to be able to prevent and deal with incidents like the recent rape of a minor girl in Vibgyor High at Marathahalli in Bangalore.

This will be part of the Child Safety Policy that the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) is planning to bring, in coordination with the department of Primary and Secondary Education.

The plan was made known at a meeting on ‘Child Rights Protection in Schools’ convened by the Department of Public Instruction here on Wednesday. Officials from various departments and school managements took part.

Amita Prasad, Principal Secretary, DWCD, one of the speakers, pointed out that there was no such thing as Child Safety Policy in the State as yet that had provisions to protect children against physical and sexual offences. 

“Let schools make their own child safety plans. I request the department (police) to give them more time to come up with such plans.”  

As an example, Prasad talked about installing CCTV cameras as a safety measure. She said CCTVs by themselves were no solution to the problem of safety in schools and they should, therefore, make plans on where they would want to instal the device and implement other safety measures according to their particular needs and situation.

Elaborating on the Child Safety Policy and Child Safety Plan on the sidelines of the programme, Prasad said: “The draft of the policy is already being prepared with help from Unicef and others. It will be completed in the next two weeks.”

She said that under the policy, there will be a common “template” for the Child Safety Plan for schools that will include steps for ensuring safety and protection of children, role of teachers, role of the School Development and Monitoring Committee, etc. Child Safety Policies of countries like New Zealand, Canada as well as those at home, of states like Kerala and Odisha are being looked into for the framing of the Child Safety Policy, Prasad said.

Expressing his opinion that children’s safety was non-negotiable, Rajkumar Khatri, principal secretary, Department of Primary and Secondary Education, suggested making the new policy “statutory”.

“As part of this new policy, discussions and consultative mechanisms on a monthly and quarterly basis should be held at the block and district levels,” he said.

Shashi Kumar, organising secretary, Karnataka State Private School Managements Federation, said he would need to look at the proposal for the formation of the Child Safety Plan and Child Safety Policy before commenting on it. “It would otherwise be just another extension of the many guidelines issued by the various departments,” he said.

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