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Schools to have POCSO booths to fight crime against young children on school campuses
As an aftermath of Gurugam's Ryan International School incident of a 7-year-old child being found murdered in the washroom last month, various agencies swung into action by sending circulars, advisories and directives to schools to ensure safety of children.

The measures included police verification of the staff, appointment of female conductors in the school buses, assigning women sweepers for girls' washrooms, reminders about safety norms, self-defence trainings for children, strict screening of visitors to the school, adequate number of CCTV cameras and their maintenance, proper conduct of PTA meetings, guidelines for routine security and safety audit of schools, and many more suggested by local administration, education department and police stations.

The NCERT has decided to include 'good touch and bad touch lessons' and printing of cover page messages on textbooks for school safety.

Recently, the Union government has decided to utilise the money from the Nirbhaya fund to fight crimes against children in schools for which various ministries have been roped in. A major portion of fund had remained unutilized.

It is said that the Union government has decided to establish POCSO booths and committees in each school equipped with the Childline helpline number. It is envisaged the presence of the booths will motivate children to lodge complaints for their sexual harassment.

It may be mentioned here, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) 2012 was formulated in order to effectively address sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.

Here is short commentary on what people are saying about all these measures.

Opinion: All this is patch work and no one is interested to remove the root cause of crimes against children due sheer negligence of the schools and school staff. When washrooms and classrooms are unsafe what about the deserted booths in the corners of a school will be safe, one wonders.

Comment: All these are 'administration friendly' futile exercises to utilise funds in the name of providing safety to children and not to go the in-house administrative reforms and sensitization of the administration to be ever alert and responsive to the welfare of children.

Suggestion: The reforms should be carried out at the school level itself by including local NGO, parents and educationists on the school management committee as 'conscience keepers' for creating child friendly and transparent school. The problem of school safety is 'within school' and solution from come from the within. 

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