Don't let kindergarten kids travel alone by school bus, say experts

Children who go to playschool and kindergarten should not be allowed to travel unaccompanied by parents in school buses, psychologists and experts have said, after two incidents of molestation by bus attendants have been reported over the past one-and-a-half months.

Most recently, on Thursday, a bus attendant was arrested after he allegedly kissed and molested a three-year-old girl from a Malad playschool, who was travelling by the school bus. In January, a bus attendant was held for allegedly molesting a four-year-old from a Juhu-based school.

"Considering that so many cases are coming to light, it is not safe to let kids travel alone in school buses. Parents, even if they are tied up, must drop nursery kids to school," said clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany.

"Kindergarten children are too small to talk or explain anything, so I advise parents to accompany their children," said Kavita Agarwal, principal of DG Khetan International School in Malad.

As per the school bus policy, a male cleaner cannot be on the bus and the bus must have women attendants. However, the policy does not cover kindergarten and preschools as these institutions are not governed by the state education department.

Indrani Malkani, member of the committee that drafted the school bus safety policy, said: "Little children are not capable of being by themselves in school buses." She recommends that children below five years should not be sent alone to school in any public mode of transport, including school buses.

For parents who are short of time, experts suggest alternatives such as car-pooling by a group of parents or help from relatives.

A parent who did not wish to be identified said she drops her three-year-old son to nursery every day. "At this age it is difficult for kids to understand what is good and bad, and I don't trust anyone else when it comes to my kid's safety."


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