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AP Govt Initiates Steps to Make Schools Safer

by Rishika Choudhury

Date & Time: Aug 09, 2022 11:00 AM

Read Time: 2 minute

The Andhra Pradesh government's School Education department has launched a novel initiative to make schools a safer place for students by combating bullying and sexual harassment. A set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) has been developed to ensure the safety and security of students, particularly female students, while teachers and staff members in each school are being educated on the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) Act of 2012. Teachers and other school personnel are being trained in child protection norms and child sexual abuse prevention in accordance with the POCSO Act.

"The main issue is the lack of reporting in spite of widespread prevalence of abuse. We want to break the silence and discuss these issues with children so that they come forward and report. That will go a long way in checking harassment," School Education Commissioner S Suresh Kumar noted.

school safety guidelines developed as part of new initiative

According to Mr Suresh Kumar, school safety guidelines have been developed as part of a new initiative to protect children under the age of 18. To address the issue, each school established a school safety committee, a child abuse monitoring committee, and a school complaints committee led by the principal. The child abuse monitoring committee will include an independent person with experience in child rights issues, among others.

"We are putting up a specially-designed complaints box in each school to let students lodge complaints on their problems, bad experiences, etc. In case of complaint against a teacher or other staff, a discreet enquiry will be conducted to protect the victim complainant's identity," Mr Suresh Kumar said.

Child safety posters with helpline numbers

Students were also encouraged to seek help whenever they needed it. Child safety posters with helpline numbers were also prominently displayed in schools. Within 15 days, a mandal-level committee comprised of the local tehsildar and other officials would investigate the complaints and make recommendations to the competent authority.

Regular meetings with teachers and members of school safety committee

Regular meetings would be held with teachers and members of the school safety committee to discuss school safety and security issues and decide on appropriate actions. Special sessions on Good Touch-Bad Touch, untold sexual harassment, psychological counselling, household harassment, and trafficking of children for sexual exploitation would be held in all schools, including those run by private management.

"Every student needs to follow the guidelines on the safety and security issued by the school principal and teachers. Senior students could discuss various issues like bullying and sexual harassment with the younger ones under the guidance of teachers," the Commissioner said.

Also, students could use the complaints box to inform the school authorities in case they observe supply of tobacco, drugs or related substances inside or outside the school premises. "Our ultimate objective is to make schools a safer place, free from any form of harassment and vices. We are enlisting the support of not only the teachers and staff but also the students, parents and others concerned to make this a successful initiative," Mr Suresh Kumar said.

Also Read: AP govt announces Financial Assistance Scheme for Higher Education in abroad

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