Now, police software to ensure students safety
In the backdrop of rising cases of child abuse and missing children, the city police have begun using a software to monitor the attendance of children during class hours. The software helps educational institutions to alert the city police help desk when they detect students sudden absenteeism. The software is presently installed in 222 educational institutions, including schools and colleges, in the city. It was initially introduced in association with the narcotic cell in 2016 to prevent drug abuse among kids by monitoring their attendance patterns.
"The software is such that the school authorities update the students' attendance in the system, which will be checked by the circle inspectors (CI) of the stations concerned. In case of any irregularity, the CI will check with the school and later with the parents. If the parents are unaware of the student's absenteeism, an alert goes out to trace the student. However, without cooperation from schools - which is the present scenario we are facing - we cannot singlehandedly bring down such issues," said Ananthalal, Ernakulam Central CI, who is also the nodal officer of the initiative.
However, the software is not put to full use by school authorities. It is installed in 70 schools under Mattanchery police jurisdiction. In Ernakulam police limits, 67 schools have the device, while it is present in 85 schools in Thrikkakara jurisdiction, he said. "If the service is efficiently put to use by the schools, the crime rates concerning children will see a 150% drop," said Ananthalal. However, Kerala CBSE school managements' association president T P M Ibrahim Khan said that the lack of cooperation from schools is not because of their disinterest but because they have privatized system for the same.
"Most of the CBSE schools have systems to send alert messages to parents' mobile phones in case of absence of students from the school without prior leave application. There are punch-in systems in school buses, which keeps the parents informed," Khan said.
Another official added that the disinterest of some institutions to install the police software must be because of their reluctance to involve the law enforcement agency in issues of schools, out of apprehension about their reputation being jeopardized. The Childline officials said that whether it be a police software or private system, keeping the parents in loop about the whereabouts of the kid, is certainly a good measure that can contribute towards improving child safety.
"It is not tracking the child per se, but notifying the parents that the child is not present where he/she is supposed to be. This is vital especially in the case of school children," said M P Antoni, co-director of Childline Kochi. The parents also find such systems very helpful . "Alerts about the kids' attendance and bus boarding timing help us a lot. Mainly because they don't have a cellphone with them for us to ring them up and ask when they'll be home. Even if the school bus is early or late, the parents will be informed accordingly," said a parent of Class IV.
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