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HRD, WCD ministries issue guidelines to keep kids safe

New Delhi: The Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) and Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) have come out with a range of suggestions to keep children studying in schools safe.
This came after a high-level committee meeting between the two ministries where existing measures were reviewed. This issue has been in focus since a seven-year-old boy was found murdered inside the bathroom of Ryan International School in Gurugram. The meeting was co-chaired by the WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi and HRD Minister Prakash Javdekar.
The suggestions include hiring female staff to operate school buses and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO) booths with Childline (1098) facility should be set up in schools. The committee has also recommended that all schools should show 'Kamal', a film developed by the government of India to teach children about "good touch and bad touch".
The committee also decided that the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) will develop security and safety audit guidelines for schools.
Apart from that, it decided that the gender champions program should be implemented in all schools to sensitize students about gender-sensitive issues, the scope of school management committees should be expanded to private schools, and PTAs should be empowered with greater and well-defined roles in safety and security aspects of school management.
Apart from the two ministers, officials from the two ministries, NCPCR, CBSE, NCERT and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan also participated in the meeting.
Gandhi, in a telephonic discussion earlier, had requested Javadekar to consider suggestions like having women employees as the support staff, including bus drivers and conductors in the schools; screening of educational films on child sexual abuse in the schools; popularizing POCSO e-Box and Childline 1098 through NCERT publications; and having strict norms for employing the support staff.
Earlier, during a meeting with a delegation of Maithil journalists, which was led by Santosh Thakur, the HRD Minister had assured that the ministry would announce the new safety guidelines in schools in the name Pradyuman Thakur, who was murdered in Ryan International School.
The WCD Ministry has already started its outreach campaign for the protection of children through electronic as well as social media. Gandhi stated that the basic objective of the meeting of the two ministries is to develop a set of guidelines and protocols which schools must follow so that the children remain protected from any kind of abuse or physical/ mental harm.
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