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Child safety is responsibility of schools: Child rights groups


New Delhi : Child rights organisations and others have condemned the alleged sexual molestation of three school-going siblings by their van driver for a year and a half and said it is the responsibility of schools to ensure that children enter and leave schools with complete safety.

The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has condemned the incident and ordered an inquiry into the matter. It has also sent notices to the schools where the children are studying.

Amod Kanth, chairperson of DCPCR, said a high-level inquiry would be held and everyone including the school authorities, the childrens’ mother, police and the education department officials questioned.

Terming it a serious issue, Kanth said: “Schools have to ensure that children enter and leave the school premises safely. It is their responsibility to ensure complete security of the children. Children are vulnerable and have to be under constant guardianship.”

School van driver Lalit Ratawal, 32, was Saturday sent to two-days’ police custody by a court. He has been accused of sexually molesting a 12-year-old girl and her two minor brothers for over a year.

The officiating principal of the school where the girl studies, expressing shock over the incident, said: “I am in absolute shock. I have no knowledge of the incident. Most of the children who study in the school belong to the economically weaker sections. After sending their children to school the parents just don’t bother. They neither come for any meeting nor verify important matters such as the whereabouts of the drivers who ferry their children.”

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), reacting to the incident, said that perpetrators of such crimes should be dealt with strictly under the law.

Shanta Sinha, chairperson, NCPCR said: “We don’t know how many more such cases are there. The public should be aware. In this case even the mother was helpless.”

According to Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research (CSR), the school authorities should have been more vigilant and there should have been an effective screening procedure for transporters in place.

“Moreover, if this was happening for more than a year why did the school authorities, including the teachers, not see any changes in the kids’ behaviour? The child must be behaving differently, why did the teachers not notice this,” she said.

Ranjana Kumari described it as a chilling incident and the most heinous form of crime.