Govt nod soon for draft policy on children's safety in schools

The public can file objections to the draft by Nov 25

Govt nod soon for draft policy on children's safety in schools

The draft of the child protection policy for safe schools released on Saturday will shortly be app­roved by the State government and have legal sanctity, according to Co­m­m­i­ssioner for Public Instruction, Mohammed Mohsin. 

“The public have time till November 25 to file objections to the draft. In about 20 days, the draft will be tabled before the Cabinet and the rules framed accordingly,” Mohsin told Deccan Herald.

Meantime, parents and child rights experts have welcomed the draft policy to protect students from child sexual abuse. 

Sai Kumar, whose ward studies at The Indiranagar Cambridge School—the Jeevan Bima Nagar institution where a case of child sexual abuse was reported last month—said the move was long overdue. 

“The drafting of such a policy shows the government is serious about checking child sexual abuse. Every parent is extremely concerned how to prevent such outward incidents. Hopefully, such a policy will be of help,” he explained. 

G Nagasimha Rao, director, Child Rights Trust, is of the opinion that children should have been involved in drafting of the policy.

“I have interacted with many children and they really give very good suggestions. The government must consult them,” he said. 

Child rights expert V P Niranjan Aradhya described the draft policy as a positive beginning to protect children.

“When incidents of child sexual abuse occur, the authorities usually resort to knee-jerk reactions. But this policy will institutionalise protection of children.” 

All schools covered 

The policy will apply to all schools—state-run, aided, unaided, junior colleges, vocational training institutions and international schools in Karnataka. 

Children need to be given space and opportunity to openly express their views on any issue.

Setting up a child post box, child rights clubs, inclusion of child protection issues in staff appraisals and evaluations, etc have been mentioned.

The staff should be properly entwined to cater to their needs and should have proper skills and training to understand what they are expressing. 

Besides, certain protocols have been established about interactions between child and adults.

For example, the draft prescribes interaction between school staff and children only during school activities and not otherwise.

Every institution should be aware of the child protection policy and the procedures, and have a child protection committee comprising the principal, the teaching and non-teaching staff, parents and important members from the respective locality.
 The principal will be the nodal officer for implementing the policy and he/she will be assisted by the Child Protection Officer (CPO) who will be nominated from among the permanent staff of the school.

The CPO will be in charge of receiving complaints from children and informing parents and government authorities.

In case of child sexual abuse, the draft recommends measures such as noticing behavioural changes in children, immediate steps like ad­m­i­n­is­tering first aid, ensuring privacy of the victim and parents, documenting evidence and informing the BEO and other authorities concerned, and assisting the police. 

Safety checklist

Schools need a ‘safety checklist’ of various categories dealing with physical safety, emotional and personal safety, social safety, emergency preparedness and cyber safety. 

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