News channels and media outlets have been awash with reports of the sad demise of a 8 year old boy inside the school premises in Gurugram. As can be expected, there is an outpouring of indignation and anxiety from many quarters all across the country. Times like these spark a conversation around security in schools. The bigger problem, to me, seems to be that this happened in a private school, which has a majority of students from middle to upper middle-class families only. There may be many such incidents happening throughout our country in schools in the hinterlands. Those go unreported and perhaps, happen to the less privileged, hence the lack of media coverage.
As parents, even my wife and I will inquire about the measures that the school that our kid goes to, is taking, in the wake of such an incident. We want our child to be safe. Over the past many years, news of sexual abuse of kids ranging in age between 3 and 16 have become more frequent. The first few times, I was shocked. Nowadays, I have come to accept it. It is a truth that not all such incidents are even reported. As a society, we are at least taking a step forward by talking about it. Maybe many years later, the society will be in a position where we can safely talk about how “secure” kids are. I don’t think we are anywhere near that kind of a scenario now.
An interesting facet of this entire discussion around security in the schools and day cares and places that children visit, is that we seem to be more aware of these happenings nowadays, and hence the ask for these steps. CCTV cameras, BGV checks on all employees, barring male employees, etc. seem to be the norm that parents seek from schools. Yes, prevention is better than cure. A stitch in time saves nine and all that. My contention is that for someone with a crooked enough mindset, all these deterrents are just that. Mild deterrents. The more we try to hide in a safety cocoon, the more likely we are to be caught out somewhere else, in some other form. I went to a school where the Administrative Officer was a terror. None of the kids from my school will ever forget that man. Kids would pee in the class if he so much as entered. Children in my school were beaten. There will be few people from my generation, who would not have seen a wooden ruler break on contact with a student’s hand or legs. Nowadays, we call it physical abuse and are terrified of the thought of any one doing that with our kids in school! We have come a long way from those times.
How secure are we? Really? We may live in communities with a large compound wall to keep out the evil elements, we employ security guards to guard against unauthorized entry and exit. I think we live in an imaginary safety net that we have cast around ourselves. No one is safe, anywhere. Ill fortune can strike at any time and at any place. It does not ask before coming in to one’s life. All our best laid plans can come to naught in the face of fate. How much of an eye can we keep on our kids? They will step out and fly sooner or later. The sooner they learn to fend for themselves, the better it would be for them. We learnt to do this, in one way or another. Maybe the next generation will, too. Of course, I would not want the experience that some of my classmates from school had with the AO to be repeated for anyone else, anywhere. But, who is to say? I can only hope for the best. I go through experiences that are normal for me which may seem abnormal for others. To each, his or her own.
Bottomline – there is no such thing as a secure life. Like everything else in life, we do our best and leave the rest to good faith.