Parents Get Shiver for a While
Chandigarh: Parents in the country were taken back last Thursday morning when they came to know through news reports that a school bus conductor allegedly molested a five year old for more than a week.
The news left parents in both dilemma and shock. Most of the Tricity school buses lack attendants and teachers to check the happenings inside the school bus. Are we really making school bus safe for children? The question prevails.
Temporary employees between the age group of 16 and 24 years are hired as school bus employees. It is easy for them to conduct any crime and run away with it.
"In the morning, I got the shivers when I read about the story. My daughter has been going by the school bus for three years and I have not seen an attendant even once," said Pallavi Gautam, the mother of a 10-year-old student. "I was worried all day long. When she reached home from school, I tried looking for behavioral changes in her."
Namya Kalia, mother of a 13-year-old schoolgirl, said conductors are mostly young men and not qualified to handle children. "We hardly see any attendants in the bus. There is a teacher accompanying them sometimes, but then she has to get off somewhere in the route," she said.
After the incident was reported, many parents came to school themselves to drop their children. "After reading the reports in the media, I was too scared to send my daughter in the school bus as she has many times reported to me about rash driving and abusive language the conductor and drivers use. It is difficult to be sure that our children will be safe in the company of such people," said Ragini Malhotra, mother of children studying in Class VIII and VI.
Parents began counselling their children soon after the reading the incident, "After my daughter left for school, my husband made me read the report and asked me to talk to her as soon as she comes back. The news has left us worried. I was desperately waiting for her to come back. And in the evening, I made her read the newspaper and told her to be careful. I asked her to report if she notices anything wrong in the behaviour of the driver or the conductor," said Bhavneet Puri, a mother of a class V student.
Parents are of the opinion that authorities will wash their hands of such incidents, "At the time of admission, they tell us about the school buses and routes. Thereafter, when we complain about the buses flouting rules, they say that the vehicle belongs to the contractor and so is not the school's duty. These buses charge between Rs 1000 and Rs 1,500 and the receipt is issued by the school, so it should be the school's responsibility," said Gitanjali Kakkar, mother of a 10-year-old student.
Concerned parents and school goers say that Chandigarh Administration should fix issues regarding responsibilities of authorities in such cases.
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