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How Safe Really Are Our Children At School?

We need to start asking the right questions.

09/01/2017 11:40 AM IST | Updated 11/01/2017 8:56 AM IST
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A 5-year-old girl just lost her finger after a completely avoidable incident at Thakur International School in Mumbai's Kandivali.

How?

She jammed her fingers between the hinges as a door was closing.

And it gets worse. The child was allegedly left to bleed profusely in the medical room for 30 minutes and was not taken to get immediate emergency care at a hospital. The parents were not informed of the gravity of the situation until they arrived at the school. A small piece of her finger was allegedly put in a plastic bag and handed over to the shocked parents when they arrived. And by the time they reached the hospital, it was too late to save her little finger, which otherwise could have been done if she had received immediate medical care.

Why didn't the school send the child to a hospital immediately when they knew the seriousness of the situation? Because they did not get an undertaking from her parents, the school authorities say.

In the midst of bad communication and management, an innocent child has lost her finger forever.

As parents, we need to start asking the right questions and stop behaving like schools are doing us the biggest favour by giving our child admission.

This is a parent's worst nightmare come true. You protect your child with utmost care when they are in sight. But what do you do when they are out of your care? In school, for example, where the onus of responsibility for the child shifts to other people.

This incident throws light on the questions we should be asking as parents. While it is a rat race in itself to get our children admission into a prestigious school in India, are we so blinded by the process of securing a seat that we are too scared to ask the right questions during the interview, in case we may seem pompous and over-controlling, perhaps? While education is a big priority, isn't the safety of our children a bigger priority than anything else?

I often think, when a woman gets molested, isn't it more harmful—to the woman in question and society at large— if she sits quietly and endures the indignity rather than speak out about it and fight this social evil? The same way, isn't our silence doing more harm than good when it comes to the safety of our children in schools?

As parents, we need to start asking the right questions and stop behaving like schools are doing us the biggest favour by giving our child admission. Polite conversations on safety know-how and how the school deals with emergencies should be the norm. We need to be interested in safety policies at schools, because these are our children they are taking care of.

Every time there is a practice fire drill in our residential complexes or schools, many look at it as a waste of time. It is a chore, an irritant to most people. Because we think it can never happen to us—"A raging fire, in our ₹8-crore apartment? No way."

Pay attention, people. That 5-year-old girl could have been our child. And that fire in the distant building a few kilometres from our apartment could have been our building.

It is always better to be safe than to be sorry. Let us ask the right questions, shall we?

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