The recent blood curdling abduction of siblings', sexual assault, torture and murder in Coimbatore points out a number of measures to be undertaken to ensure the safety of the school children who travel in private vehicles.
A number of parents who accompany the children to the schools as a fall out of the incident now say that schools should have adequate number of institution buses so that dependence on private vehicles could be brought down considerably.
In the absence of educational institution buses they are forced to rely on “neighbourhood call taxis” or individuals who own and operate one or two call taxis, where the safety of children is at peril, says Shivakumar a parent who has his son and daughter going to school.
“For quite sometime, I have made it a point to drop and pick up children or even send my wife in an auto rickshaw what ever busy we are”, he added.
At least in cases of grown up children, it is time the city had special buses during school/college timings, says Damayanthi. When grown up children take these buses comfortably especially when free bus passes are issued, the little ones number would not be very big for the schools to accommodate them in the available buses.
Shivakumar decried the habit of the TNSTC bus crew stopping the buses away from the bus stops and abusing the children just because they happen to travel in free bus pass. The conductors are often found cursing or abusing the children stating that they travel free and cause delay in running time by taking too much time to board and disembark.
Children should be told not to speak about the economic status of their family affluence in family with drivers or their attendants and they should be taught self-defence, says C. Sylendra Babu, Commissioner of Police, Coimbatore City.
When the children come out of the house, some one should accompany them to ensure that they board the right vehicle driven by the regular driver. Schools should have a system of immediately spotting a child absent without intimation or leave letter, so that the parents could be immediately alerted by a phone call or through SMS, Mr.Babu told the managements of schools in a meeting held on Tuesday evening.
Children should be clearly taught not to board vehicles other than meant for them. Officials should vehicles carrying school children never had sun-control film on windscreens and windows, he added. In this incident in the absence of sun control film, public could have spotted the torture or captivity of the children. Police are planning to crackdown on affixing sun control films in such public transport vehicles from November 11 and the fleet owners have been instructed to get them removed before November 10, Police Commissioner added.
The exercise carried out by the police on Wednesday clearly indicated that the children were not aware of the name of the driver, vehicle number or cellular phone number of the driver. In some cases, even the phone numbers of their parents. In addition, parents should know all details relating to the vehicle, driver, address, phone number and schools should maintain a dossier on all private vehicles to ensure accountability.
He also suggested for having the phone numbers of the owner and driver affixed on the vehicles in the form of stickers.
In the event of the regular driver not turning up, the parents should avoid sending their children with the help of spare or acting drivers and should it a point to personally drop and pick up their children, Mr.Babu told the parents at the meeting on Tuesday. Making them go with different drivers would only end up confusing them and throwing an invitation for those with a criminal bent of mind. At least in respect of vehicles that transport children who could not defend themselves, there has to be a mechanism to verify their antecedents before hiring them and the parents and schools should ensure the identity of the drivers and vehicles that they hire for them, he added.