The failed kidnap of three children of City Parents School in Kampala last week should force parents and schools to be safety smart. As a first step, both should be responsible for the safety of school children.
This means schools and parents should embrace foolproof rules for drop off and pick up of children. But the school authorities should take first responsibility. Here, best practices require schools to write letters to parents, stating clearly the safety policies.
So schools should design safety tips and measures. Checklists such as one that warns against never to get in a car with an unknown adult, or don’t ever hitch hike, are crucial.
No less are others warning every child to never follow a stranger, or to always say ‘no’ to a stranger’s offer of a lift home. Had the City Parents School pupils been warned to always ‘check first’ with parents, the kidnap would have failed. Moreover, tips such as warning children to shout at a stranger who offers a ride home, or says a parent sent them, are important. The children would have foiled this kidnap had they just yelled: “Leave me alone!” Or when being forced into a car should yell to attract attention.
The suggestion by deputy head teacher Paul Kasadha of City Parents School to introduce a parent’s identity card is one solution. This is already used by several boarding schools. This card bears image of the child and parent assigned to drop off and pick up a child.
This card is stamped, signed, and must be produced at every drop off or pick up. In this way, no school should permit a child out of school unless vetted. Likewise, schools that are gated have enforced rules for a sign in and sign out register for all entries and exits. This is vital and safeguards even children whose custody is contested and are prone to kidnap.
Regrettably, most of these rigid drop off, and pick up rules are emphasised mostly in only boarding schools.
Even then, the stringent measures of building perimeter wall, gates, record of entry and exit and checking identities may not be goof-proof. Children may still be abducted when en route to homes.
This implies a more strategic option is to provide children with the necessary knowledge to stay safe at school and on the way home. So the best guarantee remains to teach pupils what to do before they end up in such dangerous situations.
It is important that schools and parents urgently adopt rigid drop off, and pick up rules to stop kidnap of school children.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor