Twin abuse case brings safety spotlight on school buses | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Twin abuse case brings safety spotlight on school buses

delhi Updated: Sep 08, 2012 23:10 IST
Mallica Joshi

For long considered a safe domain for children, school buses have come under the scanner after the twin incidents of sexual abuse of two school children on Friday.

But schools maintain that they do everything they can to ensure that children reach school and home safely.

"All the drivers in our buses are permanent employees of the school. Their antecedents are verified by the school authorities when they are hired. Other than this, there are escorts in every bus that make sure that the child reaches home safely. No child is left alone in the bus without the escort at any time," said Usha Ram, principal, Laxman Public School. Most other schools follow the same rule.

"We get our buses from DTC. A teacher and a security guard accompany the children till the last bus stop. The guard does not get off before the child in any case," said Anuradha Joshi, principal, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya.

How seriously the guards follow this direction is another matter altogether.

"My daughter has told me several times that the guard in their buses gets off three stops before the last child is dropped off. Friday's incident has shaken me and I will certainly bring this behaviour to the school's notice," said the father of a girl studying at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya.

Another menace, many believe, are the private cabs employed by parents. According to an estimate, there are over 10,000 private cabs that ferry children to school and back. Though the transport department of Delhi government had initiated a scheme to register these cabs and verify the antecedents of drivers, not even half were registered.

"We discourage parents from using such cabs as we can't vouch for their safety. What we do, however, is take signed consent letters from every parent whose child takes a private cab. We also get photographs of the driver and don't let the child board the cab if the driver is not the same," Ram said.

"The cabs are a concern for sure. In a school you know who is dropping which child home but with the multiplicity of informal transport modes gatekeeping becomes difficult. Parents should rather go with school buses. Also making their children aware is very important. They should report to the parents or the school authorities if they are touched inappropriately," said a senior police official.