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The dawn of September 8, 2017 marked the happening of an unfortunate event - the murder of a 7-year old in school. The incident raised the question of safety and security of children in educational institutions. The incident has probed anger & frustration, not only among the parents of the deceased boy, Pradyuman but also among the society at large and against the school administration. This incident goes beyond all discrepancies, political patronage, media influence and outrage of all the parents and the society at large raises certain questions, issues, and concerns that a parent face. ISSUES RAISED BY PRADYUMAN MURDER CASE -
WHO IS AT FAULT? It is not for the first time that a school has been questioned for its negligence with regard to children and their safety. Last year Devansh Meena, a student of Ryan International School, Vasant Kunj went missing on January 30, 2016, and was later found dead in the school's tank by the electrician. With the happening of such heinous crimes in schools, with school authorities washing off their hands from the responsibility blaming it on the security agencies or support staff etc. - the question that arises is - who is responsible for such crimes? In the instant case, the founding Chairman and Managing Director, Augustine Pinto, and his wife Grace Pinto said that the school has no role to play in the murder of the 2nd grader Pradyuman and the allegations against the school are false. Within minutes of reporting of the incident, the bus conductor, Ashok Kumar was arrested where he admitted to the crime. Later during the police interrogation, the bus driver, Saurabh said that the accused Ashok Kumar is only being used as a scapegoat by the School management. He went on to say that he was also threatened to agree to the same and was asked to accept that the knife used in the murder is the one kept in the tool-kit, however, his statement is contrary. Now that the school is washing off their hands of the responsibility, are parents the ones at fault by sending their children to schools which only aim at making a profit? SECURITY CONCERNS In the instant case, a lot has pointed towards the security failures of the School such as there was no separate washrooms for the students and staff, no security checking system, breaking boundary walls of the school and no CCTV cameras were installed to cover the school premises. The question which arises is who is responsible for such security failures- school management or the security agencies or whether these reasons are an important factor in the instant case at all. It is undisputed that no school can afford security failure as it is the prime example of school's negligence. The School cannot take a plea that they have appointed an agency to cover all the above issues but it is their duty and responsibility to make sure that the agency so appointed in carrying the work delegated to them and to keep a timely check that all the security measures are being effectively carrying out by the school. To maintain security and safety of the children in the school is the responsibility of the school authorities. BACKGROUND VERIFICATION The number of crimes against children is increasing at an alarming rate in the past few years. One of the disturbing reason of such incidents can be attributed to the lack of background verification/check being conducted by the school authorities. The background check of the staff has been made mandatory through police verification, however, most of the schools skip the background verification of its teaching as well as non-teaching staff. The background check of the staff is important to avoid such incidents and make the school safer as it confirms the authenticity of the facts presented by them about themselves. While performing background checks on employees, school management must take certain points into consideration, as it’s not limited to criminal history checks. Education, employment history, reference verifications, professional licenses, and medical records are important too. The need of the hour is not only to have stringent background check policies but also to follow it rigorously in an attempt to avoid such crimes against the children.
PREVENTION OR CURE it is always said that 'Prevention is better than Cure' however, our Government certainly does not believe in this as it is clear from the present scenario. After the unfortunate incident of Pradyuman murder case, the Haryana Government has set itself into action, be it the Chief Minister of Haryana, Sh. Manohar Lal Khattar or Education Minister of Haryana Sh. Ram Bilas Sharma. As soon as the news of the murder of the 7-year old 2nd grader went viral in the media, Sh. Ram Bilas Sharma blamed the management of Ryan International School and Sh. Manohar Lal Khattar ordered the police to carry out the investigation in 7 days. Haryana Government on witnessing the anger, protest, and frustration of the parents has decided to formulate set of guidelines for security of student. The guidelines will be formed by the committee of the Directorate of Education including members of the government as well as representatives from private schools. The main concern is why this need to formulate new guidelines has to wait for an incident like this. Why someone has to lose his life to make visible the poor security conditions of the private schools? Is the State Government is not responsible for keeping regular checks on the school?