Since the December 2012 Delhi rape incident, the word ‘rape’ in India has unfortunately become a commonly used word, and in the light of the recent attacks on two young girls in Bangalore, women and young girls’ safety seems at a higher risk than ever with NGO organisations such as Childline India Foundation receiving up to 5 million calls a year.
On July 2nd, a six-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a member of the staff in her school in Bangalore and barely a month later, another incident occurred concerning sexual assault on an eight-year-old girl within a second school in Bangalore, sparking protests across the state and parents refusing to send their kids back to school.
In the light of these events, the police and education officials have introduced new guidelines to schools across India with the following changes to be made by August 31st.
- All buses are to have GPS and CCTV cameras installed. CCTV cameras must be installed around school premises, and the footage must be kept for a minimum of 60 days and handed over to the police for investigation. So far, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has installed cameras in 500 school buses.
- Bus drivers will no longer be allowed to socialise with the children beyond a certain limit and must stop within school grounds.
- Floor vigilance officers are to be in attendance across school grounds in both plain and uniformed clothing.
- Only authorised persons are allowed to enter the school grounds and any unusual or suspicious activity/behaviour should be immediately reported.
- Parents must be issued an ID card to pick up their children and in the event they cannot do so, must send an SMS to authorise another person.
Any failure on a school’s behalf to comply with these new regulations will lead to punishment under Section 188 Act of the Indian Penal Code.
New plans are in motion for schools to instigate a system where both parents and the school faculty are notified when a child has both left and reached their destination, and changes to the Goonda Act have been made to include sexual molesters.
These new regulations show a promising start to change for young girls’ safety within a school environment. However, there are things that parents could do to put their mind at rest when their children are out during the day. New technologies involving GPS Trackers can give their parents peace of mind about where their children are and ensuring they are safe.
The Personal GPS Trackers are designed by Connect My World for parents to track the safety of school going kids and without the need for internet or a laptop; it is easily accessible. With features that allow the parent to track and listen to their kid’s whereabouts and know what they are up to, the device also has a ‘Help Me’ button at the hands of the child carrying the tracker which alerts their parents through an SMS that they may be in danger. The device has a battery life of up to 5 to 10 days and could be crucial to making both parents and kids in India feel more secure. It costs Rs 4,800.
Another new GPS technology device, Hereo, is a watch that again allows parents to keep track of their kids by connecting to the watch through a free app available on iOS and Android phones. The app allows parents to send messages to their kids to check they are safe and secure and also send their kids directions in the event that they get lost.
However, with the need for internet for this to work and a higher price of $99 (Rs 6,084.32) through Indiegogo.com and a monthly GPS fee (free for the first six months), this GPS watch is less accessible.
Indiegogo also have available another GPS Tracker called Kidsport, which can be worn on the child’s wrist or ankle and features a panic button that can be pressed on demand but also alerts the registered parents device when it has been removed or cut off. With waterproof features, this device can be worn throughout all seasons and for water activities, and with street views of your child’s location set at scheduled intervals or at the click of a button, this GPS device makes sure it has your child’s safety as covered as possible. However, with a price of $129 (Rs 7,888.99) this again makes it a high cost purchase.
Despite all the fantastic new GPS features that come on these device, the costs that come with them unfortunately mean the availability of these products is limited to families with the financial capability to purchase one, when every parent in India and across the world should have the right to know their child is safe when they send them to school.
Hopefully with the constant technological evolution, these devices will one day be available at a much lower cost, however for now, in light of the recent news and child safety scares, can families put a cost on their child’s safety?