In the Indian context, schools are temples of learning, where subjects are taught and values are inculcated. Every parent takes great care to choose a school that will be ideal for their children, and trust that they will be nurtured as strong and sensible individuals as they grow.
One of the key challenges that schools and parents together face, is that of 'SAFETY' of school-going kids. It is not just physical safety, but also their mental and emotional well-being.
Living in times when technology has seeped into every sphere of our lives, the children and youth of today are influenced by more than just family and peers. Very young children have access to the internet and are able to surf websites without any adult monitoring them. They can view adult or violent content without restrictions, and are vulnerable to mental and emotional harm, This is a matter of concern for very young kids as well as teenagers.
The question one always has is - What are the schools doing to ensure that the students are protected.
Today, most schools are equipped with CCTV and hence can keep a hawk's eye on individual classrooms, staff-rooms and outdoor spaces within the school campus. Simultaneously, students are taught to be aware and alert, and alert school authorities at any time that they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Some schools even have smart card ids whereby each kid swipes their individual cards as they climb the school bus, or enter the campus.
But what happens beyond the campus? School teachers and principals everywhere have been sensitizing parents to this matter. Parents and families too need to be involved in this process.
In a scenario where children are constantly exposed to multimedia, video games and even the unimaginably terrifying 'Blue Whale' influence, it is very essential that all parents are engaged with their children's day to day lives.
One of the most important ways is to have daily conversations. Children and teenagers have a lot happening within their minds and hearts, and families should create an atmosphere of sharing and trust at home, so that they can express themselves.
Let them speak about their activities, their friends, their beliefs and their fears without receiving stern lectures in return. Once they feel reassured about sharing their lives, they will reveal much more.
Know who their friends are, so that you understand what kind of company they keep, and it will help in knowing what you need to keep an eye on, or whether they need to inform the school.
There are self-defense courses conducted through schools, as well as outside institutes, which should be taken advantage of.
Guiding rather than laying down restrictions is the best way to have children listen and obey.
Outdoor activities and hobbies like music or art not only fuel a young mind's creativity, but keeps them away from being indoors, disconnected from friends and nature. Playing and pursuing their passions is essential to them growing up as healthy adults.
The holistic upbringing of a child is a shared responsibility and together, parents and the school can build an excellent partnership. Take the first step today.