Safety at school – What is a parent’s role?
This morning, I opened my eyes to this horrible news that a friend shared with me. A 4-year-old girl was molested at one of the most reputed schools in my city. And as a working mother of two girls, who spend more than 10 hours a day in school’s jurisdiction – whether it is on road in their school bus, in the classroom or in the daycare managed by the school itself – it honestly scared the hell out of me!
But is worrying & getting scared enough? As today’s educated & responsible parents, don’t we all need to take certain steps to ensure that we are a part of the process for ensuring safety & overall wellbeing of our kids, no matter where they are.
It made me think – what we as parents can do to ensure our kids are at a safe place? Also, how can we ensure that our kids are confident & equipped enough to talk to us in case something goes wrong? Here are some pointers that I came up after some diligent research.
- An OK reputation of the school or daycare is a big red flag. DO NOT go by online reviews, but rather talk to local community & parents of kids already going to that particular school or daycare.
- If the school/daycare authorities refuse to connect you to other parents of existing students, consider that as a red flag. If they are confident about the safety of their students, they will not shy away from letting you speak to other parents who can validate that.
- Check the staff to children ratio. If it is too less, no matter what’s the excuse, it is a red flag.
- The on rolls vs. contractual staff. If the helping staff is on their payrolls, the responsibility of ensuring their behavior invariably is on the management.
- Basic logistics such as how clean the premise is, how sorted their schedules & timetables are etc.
WHAT CAN WE DO FROM OUR END
- Talk to your kids about safe touch, personal space, and the YELL RUN TELL rule. You might find this article I wrote a while back about APPROPRIATE VS. INAPPROPRIATE TOUCH relevant & interesting.
- Keep asking your kids on a regular basis how happy they are and keep checking for any signs of behavior change or wounds/bruises on their bodies.
- Keep meeting the teachers, principal, and other involved authorities from time to time. This will not only ensure that you are always aware of what’s going on but will also give a signal to the authorities that you are a diligent parent & makes them even more on their toes about child safety.
- Make an informal group of parents of kids in the same classroom/daycare and keep discussing the issues. If needed, as a group, go and meet the authorities to check the safety of your kids time to time.
Here’s an article by Scholastic that talks about CHILD SAFETY which is a must-read for all parents.