New Delhi, 31 October 2018: Aiming to strengthen community support on the issue of child safety, SEEDS (Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society) recently organised an action oriented multi-stakeholder workshop (Maitreya) at Cross River Mall, New Delhi.
Key panelists came together to discuss the concept of child safety, its importance and steps that can be taken to ensure it is done. This included Mr. Pawan Maini, Chairperson, Purvi Delhi Aapda Prahari’s (PDAP), Dr Mohammad Javed Qamar, Deputy Director of Education, East Delhi, Lt. Col. Ashok Kumar, EDMC Director, Ms. Nikita Chaturvedi, PDAP General Secretary, Dr. Manu Gupta, Co-Founder, SEEDS, Ms. Surabhi Gajbhiye and Mr. Parag Talankar from SEEDS. Also present were members from the District Administration, Regional Directorate of Education, EDMC- Education Department, local leaders, teachers, School Management Committee and parents.
At the heart of the Maitreya workshop was the need to go beyond the conventional notions of ‘safety’ to achieve child protection. How do you ensure an environment conducive to a safe and protected childhood is created and sustained?
Asserting the need for community participation in this endeavor, Manu Gupta, Co-Founder, SEEDS said, “One of the key issues that SEEDS focusses on is child safety. Our school safety programme focuses on empowering children to raise their voices. A key aspect of safety we feel needs to be addressed is the travel between school & home. In terms of the child’s security, parents fear this gap the most. A community watch system can help ensure that this gap area is covered. This model can be eventually implemented across the country.”
With concerns in schools arising across the country, the need to lay emphasis on safety of children in schools is critical. As per baseline findings found out during the Honeywell Safe Schools Program in East Delhi conducted by SEEDS, it was found that 58% of parents surveyed feared road accidents as the greatest risk for their children; 20% of parents surveyed fear eve teasing and 19% fear bullying; 69% of parents surveyed had children who walk to school, usually unaccompanied; 93% of surveyed people do not know whether their child’s school has a disaster management plan and 99% of the surveyed people were not aware of the specific disaster helpline number.
The Maitreya discussion threw up some interesting ideas such as counselling sessions for cab and bus drivers. There was also suggestions for a platform or forum to come forward with common child safety issues and find solutions.

Some of the other outcomes that came out of the discussion:

 Medical facilities to be strengthened in schools
 Children to be listened to carefully for their issues and concerns within the school and nearby
environment
 Local police officials to be deputed around schools to ensure better safety measures