Background checks – Protecting our kids

Why do we send our children to school? As a parent I send my child to school to attain knowledge, hone social skills and to shape up their personality. What we as parents take for granted is our child’s security. We assume our children are absolutely safe and miles away from harm within the school premises.

But newspaper articles now reveal that our children may be surrounded in school, by people who may harm them. Sadly, there are schools that don’t take all necessary precautions and permit the wrong people to slip through the cracks.

Not long back the police in Mumbai arrested a juvenile for sexually assaulting a three-year-old play school kid. The incident occurred after the survivor left her institution—an English medium school—and went to her pick-up vehicle (a Tata Sumo) to return back home in the evening. The matter was observed after the survivor complained to her mother.

The rape of a six-year-old girl in her school premises raised an alarm on the lack of security measures in schools. It is known for a fact that there are very few schools that conduct professional background checks of their staff, be it teaching or non-teaching ones

It came to light that twenty-five children in an eight-seater van were going to school. They sit crammed, eight to a seat; another bunch was perched on a CNG cylinder. In most cases, the vehicles have no transport department clearance and are therefore illegal. As per rules, a maximum of 12 children are allowed in these eight-seater vans. According to government figures, a child died and over 70 were injured in school van accidents in the last three years.

Nearly 200 schools in Bangalore have been booked by the police for failing to implement its guidelines for child safety. The guidelines were issued following a spate of sexual assaults on children in schools and repeated protests by parents were to be implemented by August 31, 2014.

Sometimes people with a record of sexual misconduct are able to get jobs in public or private schools as teachers and support staff. This happens when employment or volunteer background checks are not performed before making hiring decisions. And that is very troubling as a parent. There could also be a red flag on an application and there is no follow-up on the application.

In my mind, there are no excuses when it comes to doing all we can to protect our children. School background checks are necessary to keep our kids safe.

Cheers to the schools that run background checks on prospective employees before letting them work with our children. Here are some tips to help create an employment background check program for your school:

• Develop a screening policy by engaging a third party background screening agency.
• Use a combination of background check services and screening solutions.
• Establish criteria to evaluate background check information and determine what will define disqualifying information

The fact of the matter is that the most important people at any school are the children. They should be able to come to school and learn in a safe environment free from sexual predators.

Let’s provide our children a safe and secure environment at school! If spending a few thousands may prevent children from harm’s way, why not spend it!

Protect our children, secure their future!

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