12 November 2020

Child safety: Expected but not regulated

There is no doubt that child safety should be implemented at all schools. Parents leave their “precious ones” in the hands of teachers at the schools where their children are educated. It is a basic expectation that kids should be safe at school.

Child safety Arte Viva, Child safety proudtcs by Arte Viva
Child safety Arte Viva Child safety products

The word safe itself is quite subjective. School safety may concern issues such as assaults, bullying, theft, sexual attacks or accidents. It is expected that all aspects of safety are taken into account by schools. In reality, there is a long list of factors that could put kids at risk of danger.

Realistically, schools can try their best to provide a safe area for kids, but it may not be enough when an unwanted and unexpected accident occurs. Therefore, most schools follow a certain protocol or regulation devised internally or by an external party such as the Government, or an organization focusing on safety areas.

I’ve recently interviewed and made several phone calls to some schools in Indonesia regarding child safety implementation. All of them stated that child safety is a priority and that child safety equipment is implemented when necessary.

Most schools said that the child safety equipment they provide is mainly fire hydrants and other fire protection equipment. Apparently in Indonesia, fire safety equipment is the most common one provided by schools. Yet what is the probability of a fire occurring in school compared to, say, kids bumping into walls? Or having their fingers trapped in doors?

Obviously, the injury caused by fire may be much more severe than that caused by bumping into walls. I am not saying that fire safety equipment is not important, but does it mean that small accidents (that are more likely to happen) like falling or getting fingers caught in doors, should be ignored?

Consequence Child fingers between doors, finger guard
Consequence of a child’s fingers getting caught in a door, finger guard

Other schools that I have interviewed claimed that they have a wide range of child safety products. Some of them also receive regular visits by government officials to check on the school environment. Interestingly, when asked about regulations, they replied that there are apparently no government regulations specifying any procedures or standards regarding child safety.

One of my interviewees said something that grabbed my interest:

“Schools need to recognize the fact that the lack of regulation actually makes them more vulnerable not less vulnerable.” Why? If something bad happens, the school would be liable for it, and their internal regulation would be considered insufficient. In reality, the government expects that all schools are safe, but has not defined what the word “safe” really means.

Many schools make sure that they have teachers to “keep an eye” on every student in order to prevent injuries. However, kids like to explore, and of course, human error may occur. Why not make sure that the school area is equipped with the necessary safety equipment instead of solely relying on teachers to pay attention, and hold them liable if anything were to happen?

I believe that this does not occur only in Indonesia. Many countries still expect schools to be safe without providing the appropriate regulation to prevent child accidents. Awareness clearly has to be raised on the importance of safety equipment in schools. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.

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