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Safety of Children in Schools
Sep 21, 2017

[GS Paper II: (Issues relating to development and management of social sector, relating to health, education and human resources)]

Why in news?

The recent murder of 7-year-old child in one of the reputed schools in the country by the school bus conductor who also tried to sexually assault the boy has highlighted the need for urgent steps to ensure child safety in the educational institutions. 

  • In the wake of this incident and other instances of abuse against children in schools, CBSE has issued new safety and security guidelines for all schools. 
  • The CBSE has mentioned in its notification that the onus of keeping students safe within schools would solely lie upon the school authorities. 
  • The CBSE has also stated that it is a fundamental right of a child to engage and study in an environment where he or she feels safe and is free from any form of physical or emotional abuse or harassment. 

CBSE Security Guidelines  

  • Safety audits of schools done by their respective local police stations, installation of CCTV cameras at all vulnerable areas inside schools and limiting the entry of outsiders are among the instructions issued by the CBSE.
  • As per the guidelines, the schools must get the police verification and psychometric evaluation done for all the staff employed.
  • The CBSE asked the schools to ensure that support staff was employed only from authorised agencies and proper records are maintained. Verification and evaluation for non-teaching staff such as, bus drivers, conductors, peon and other support staff may be done very carefully and in a detailed manner. 
  • Schools must constitute separate committees for redressal of grievances of the public, staff, parents and students.
  • The board also directed the schools to constitute an internal complaints committee for complaints regarding sexual harassment and committees under Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012. 
  • Details of these committees along with contact details should be displayed prominently on school notice boards and website for information of all stakeholders.
  • The guidelines have been made mandatory for all schools and any violation or lapses with regard to safety and well being of children in school campus would lead to disaffiliation of the school.

Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012

  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. 
  • The Act defines any person below 18 years of age as a child. 
  • It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography.
  •  It deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor. 
  • The Act also casts the police in the role of child protectors during the investigative process. 
  • The Act further makes provisions for avoiding the re-victimisation of the child at the hands of the judicial system. It provides for special courts that conduct the trial in-camera and without revealing the identity of the child, in a manner that is as child-friendly as possible. 
  • The Act stipulates that a case of child sexual abuse must be disposed of within one year from the date the offence is reported.

Way forward

  • Informed parenthood: Parents should teach their children to be assertive in order to protect themselves against incidents of bullying and emotional exploitation. 
  • School: Creating a safe learning environment, identifying pupils who are suffering or at risk of harm and then taking suitable action are the required steps to be taken by the school authorities for ensuring student safety. 
  • Government should ensure that the right information is imparted to parents and children both 
  • The presence of not just security personnel but of other equipment particularly CCTV’s on school campuses can provide better safety layers in the institution. 
  • This is a wake-up call for all governments to implement uniform security norms, especially where school managements remain indifferent towards student safety because without effective institutionalised corrective mechanisms, a safe learning environment will continue to elude the country’s schoolchildren.


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