One of the worst tragedies of 2009 was the death of six-year-old Abhishek in a stormwater drain in Lingarajpuram, which highlighted how thoughtless the city is on the issue of children’s safety. The year is coming to a close with the sad news of the death of four-year-old Meghana in a road accident as she was crossing the road to buy an ice-cream cone.
How can the New Year be made safer for children?
Vasudeva Sharma, member, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, believes that the effort should be towards evolving a clear and comprehensive policy that covers child protection from pre-natal stage to adolescence. It should cover all spheres, from homes to schools and from roads to shopping malls.
Many girl children in a city like Bangalore are married off early by parents because they fear for their safety and want to shift responsibility off their shoulders. Trafficking and abuse of girl children goes unchecked because of the lack of even basic data on the number of children in the city. Our callous attitude towards child safety, even if we take it in the narrower sense of physical safety, is visible all around us. One stark example is the state of our system of school transport. While walking to schools is a virtual impossibility because of heavy traffic and non-existent pavements, school vans and buses are packed beyond capacity into vans that always speed. “We definitely need a special licensing and monitoring system for school transport,” says Mr. Sharma.