Child safety, what the parents say

Last Updated 02 August 2015, 06:58 IST

Syed Feraz has a 15­-year-old daughter studying in 9th standard of a reputed city school. He sees off her every day at 7 am in a private van that takes her along with seven other kids to the school and back home.

The school provides bus facility for its wards. However, he had to choose a private transport service since the big buses of the school would not pass through the narrow streets of interior JP Nagar 5th phase, where his house is located.

“My tight work schedule makes it impossible for me to drop and pick up my daughter at school everyday,” says Syed Feraz. “Life would have been difficult but for the private cab services, who take care of our children's transportation.”

Feraz is not alone. School buses, autorickshaws and private van services have been making life easy for hundreds of families. However, many parents live under the shadow of fear and insecurity over safety and comfort of their children.

“A driver may have been hired after a foolproof background check but that does not assure that he may not commit crime in the future,” says Padmaja Vindo, a mother of two and a school teacher. She adds that working parents have no other option but to depend on such services. “My children’s school doesn't take the trouble of providing a bus service, as it involves too many complications. Hence, we entrust a private van driver with the job,” she explains.

According to her, the trust that has been built with the private school van drivers over a period of time is what scores over her insecurity. “We have known our van driver for many years now. He has been very responsive to our problems and attends to our complaints quickly,” says Padmaja.

The driver had fired one of his staffers in the past after a few parents complained that the latter was behaving rudely. Padmaja's children, a girl and boy are studying in 6th and 1st class respectively. “Sometimes they come back home and complain about space constraints in the bus due to overcrowding. On some occasions, they have problems with other children. However, these problems are common and we can't stop the van service, due to our work timings.”

Parents know that if they want foolproof security and comfort for their kids, they would have to opt for school buses. But then, they have to be ready to loosen their purse strings.

 “After last year's incidents involving assaults on school children, my son's school made safety procedures very strict,” says Chethana, mother of a six-year-old.  

"There are always two lady attendants in the school bus. The bus itself is followed by an escort car. The vehicle will not be filled beyond its capacity. And if one who receives a child does not carry mandatory escort identity card, the student will not be handed over to the person. The staff will take the child back to the school, and keep him / her with them till their parents arrive,” she explains.  

However, this degree of care and safety comes with a huge price tag. Chethana pays about Rs 25,000 annually for the school transport service.

"At times, the stringent rules make me irritated. But at end of the day, it is the safety of our kids that matters the most," she says.

(Published 01 August 2015, 20:55 IST)

Follow us on