ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Responses to Rape in Schools

The safety guidelines for schools in Karnataka that mandate cultures of surveillance and control are inadequate to prevent the systematic abuse of children in schools. Systems that place child welfare at the heart of schooling and school processes are necessary if schools are to be safe spaces where all children learn and flourish.

On 28 and 29 October 2014 a six-year-old child was sexually assaulted reportedly by a male teacher in a private school in Bengaluru. This incident occurred a week after a three-and-half year old child was allegedly sexually abused at a nursery school in Bengaluru. In July 2014, a six-year-old child studying in one of the branches of a reputed school chain in the same city was raped allegedly by two gym instructors of the school.

Following the July incident, there was a huge public outcry and parents and members of the public staged protests and demonstrations against the school management. Shouting slogans against the management and picketing the premises, the parents demanded that the principal and management board be held accountable for ensuring the safety of children at school. In response to these public protests and the relentless media coverage that followed, the Karnataka police, supported by the state’s education department, issued a series of guidelines with regard to school safety and warned of prosecution if managements and principals failed to comply. Amongst other measures, the police guidelines indicated that all schools should have CCTV cameras. School buses, in addition to the CCTVs, should also have the global positioning system (GPS) in place. The bus drivers should be isolated and not allowed to mix with the children. Schools should depute a floor vigilance officer seated in a transparent cabin on each floor from where they could “watch” children and other adults entering and leaving classrooms, toilets and school premises. And access to areas such as gyms, swimming pools and other sporting facilities should be restricted only to authorised persons connected to the subjects being taught in the schools. The antecedents of all employees of the school, including teachers and support staff were to be established by the schools and parents were to be issued identity cards to enable them to drop and pick up their wards.

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