The News Minute | June 28, 2014 | 2.42 pm IST
Caretakers and teachers in schools are in the spotlight once more for all the wrong reasons. The principal of a school in Bangalore has been arrested on charges of committing sexual offences against children.
Mallikarjun Swamy who was principal of the Kittur Rani Chennamma School in Bangalore Rural district apparently liked to sleep on the pillows and bedsheets of girls studying in the residential school. A security staff member Karthik was also arrested. Police found photos of girl students on Swamyâ€™s phone.
According to the police, the principal was a retired Junior Commissioned Officer in the Army. It is unclear at this stage whether he was qualified to be the principal of a school. Although his qualifications are important, this is not the first time children have been abused by those who are supposed to watch out for them.
Just two years ago, a private school in Bangalore made headlines when allegations of sexual abuse cropped up against the British head of the Trio World School Paul Meekin. In January 2012, Meekin was accused of abusing children, especially boys, and posting lewd comments on a social networking site.
It was later learned that Meekin had even taken a Standard V boy to Goa with him. The childâ€™s parents were under the impression that their son was on a study tour. A month later, he was arrested and he subsequently spent slightly over a year in Parappana Agrahara in Bangalore.
More recently, a boarding school in Karjat in Maharashtra, made headlines when children alleged that they were being subjected to unspeakable acts of sexual perversion and abuse. The Chandraprabha Charitable Trust which ran the school, did not have the requisite government permissions, despite being run since 2002.
The media also reports that children are often subjected to other kinds of abuse such as harsh disciplinary measures, they are humiliated, insulted etc in both private and government schools.
Children are especially vulnerable to abuse by adults as they are in disadvantaged positions. Often, they are even unable to communicate the full extent of what has happened to them. They also have to deal with the trauma of physical, sexual and psychological abuse. What is more distressing in Mallikarjun and Meekin's cases is that the school should not even have hired them in the first place as they had no qualifications for the job.
According to a study by the Women and Child Development Department, slightly over half of all children in India face some kind of sexual abuse. And half of this is done by people known to the children.
Even one child being abused is bad. With over 164 million children in the country, half of whom the government says have experienced abuse, a lot of children are at risk.
The central governmentâ€™s 2012 law on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, is a very good step in this direction, but is it monitoring that the provisions of the act are implemented?