Fact Finding: Death of a 6 year old boy in a School at Tirupur

The-report-released-in-the-press

Summary of the Tragic Incident:

Sivaram a 6 year old boy was studying 1st standard in Kathiravan Matriculation Higher Secondary School at Tirupur. His father Arun Prasad is working in a bank at Thirupur as Assistant Manager. His family had moved to Tirupur only a year ago. Sivaram has two siblings (twins). Vijay (Name changed) an 11 year old boy alleged to have assaulted the child Sivaram leading to his death, is also studying 6th standard in the same school. It is reported that both these boys were friends and they would travel in the same school bus together from their homes. All the children traveling in that bus would reach the school at 7.45am and once they reach the school they generally go to their respective classrooms, but there is no teacher supervision since the teachers come to school only later. Most of the time the children would play from 7.45 am until classes began at 8.45 am. It was informed to the Fact Finding Team that Sivaram and Vijay were found to be playing together on most occasions outside their class rooms during this time (7.45 am – 8.45.am).

On the fateful day 27th January 2016, Sivaram and Vijay were playing together while travelling in the school bus, suddenly a quarrel erupted between them when Sivaram started bullying Vijay calling him as PAGHAL / BEHUFU which means mad person in Hindi. Vijay was very offended, became angry and wanted to beat up Sivaram as soon as they reached the school. On reaching school Vijay was not able to beat up Sivaram since he saw the Physical Education Teacher, so he left the ground and went back to his class. A little later Vijay saw Sivaram going to the toilet from his classroom, he also went behind him and again quarrel erupted between them. The toilet is in the corner of the school with full of sharp pebbles and big stones on the ground which is dangerous for young children like Sivaram. There is no staff presence near the toilet for assisting younger children. In the total absence of adult supervision in an around the toilet the quarrel between Sivaram and Vijay further escalated and intensified and they started beating each other outside the toilet. In that process it seems that Vijay pushed Sivaram’s head against a big stone due to which Sivaram started bleeding profusely from his head. On seeing this Vijay tried to lift Sivaram but he fell down and hit his head once more against another stone and sustained further head injuries. Vijay tried to stop the bleeding from Sivaram’s head by keeping a Polythene cover but failed to stop the bleeding. Vijay also hurt his hand in this process.

There were not many other children in school when the incident took place. However it was reported to the Fact Finding team that a girl Ishwaria (name changed) studying 5th standard in the same school saw Sivaram and Vijay quarreling through the classroom window. Ishwaria informed Krishnasamy  (name changed) another boy, who went to the place of incidence near the toilet and found Sivaram unconscious and severely bleeding, he also saw Vijay standing beside Sivaram blood stains on his uniform. Krishnasamy immediately told about this incident to the Physical Education Teacher who rushed to the spot and took Sivaram and Vijay immediately to the nearby Krithika Clinic accompanied by the school secretary. The doctors in Krithika Clinic examined Sivaram and found him in a very critical condition and thus referred him to the Government Hospital, Tirupur. As Vijay was not severely injured, the doctors treated him as outpatient and sent him back to the school. However on arrival at the government hospital at Tirupur, Sivaram was declared as brought dead. Later the Principal informed Police at Tirupur Central Police Station about the incident. The Sub Inspector together with Women Police Constable went to the school and conducted preliminary inquiry. According to the police who are dealing with this case, Vijay has been booked under sec 302 (murder) of the IPC and produced before the Juvenile Justice Board in Tirupur. Vijay has been sent to the Observation Home in Coimbatore. Based on the information given by the school authorities the police have registered a FIR. There was no complaint against the school management for their negligence to ensure children’s safety in their school.

Recommendations:

  1. We strongly recommend that the Government of Tamil Nadu immediately commission a “Social Audit of Safety Standards” in all schools both private and government in Tamil Nadu and take appropriate measures based on the social audit done to ensure safety standards to protect all children in both government and private schools.
  2. The government should issue an order that all schools must mandatorily evolve and implement a comprehensive School Child Protection Policy to protect children from all forms of abuse, that is physical, emotional, sexual and neglect including discrimination and exploitation. This Child Protection Policy should focus “Teacher Behavior Code of Conduct” with children and “Child to Child Behavior Code of Conduct”. There must be provision for complaint and redressal mechanism to handle complaints within the Child Protection Mechanism established in each school to implement their respective Child Protection Policy.
  3. Towards mandatorily implementing the respective school child protection policy, all the personnel in each school from the correspondent, principals, headmasters, teachers, administrative staffs, service providers like watchman, drivers, gardeners, cooks etc..,should be sensitized and capacitated to accept the Child Protection Policy and abide by it on a day to day basis towards protecting each and every child in their respective schools from all forms of Abuse.
  4. The tragic death of child Sivaram occurred due to the gross negligence of the school management towards ensuring adequate safety standards to protect children from all forms of risk. Hence we recommend that the school management owns responsibility for this gross negligence and pay a compensation of Rs.25, 00,000 (Rupees Twenty Five Lakhs) to the family of the deceased child Sivaram.
  5. The Kathiravan Matriculation School has totally violated safety standards to be ensured in schools by not implementing the GO No.270 dated 22.10.2012 which resulted in the tragic death of the child Sivaram. The concerned officials who are responsible to monitoring the implementation of GO are liable for their lapse in not ensuring the safety of children in this school. Hence we recommend that appropriate necessary disciplinary action be taken against the concerned officials for negligence of their official duty.
  6. This tragic incident should be a wakeup call to all schools for ensuing teacher supervision for the elementary children who come early to school. Further the school infrastructure must be child friendly and easily accessible to all children. It should be made mandatory that all the schools should have a trained first-aid teacher with the provision of an adequate first-aid kit even if the overall strength of the school is below 100.
  7. School should create a “Child Protection Plan” which should cover all factors like school transport, medical facilities, physical infrastructure, age-wise toilets with staff support for smaller children. Periodic staff training on child rights, child psychology, prevention of child abuse and promoting positive discipline among children should be organized.
  8. Schools should appoint and ensure a trained child counselor in their respective schools. Periodic mentor support system for problematic children and also group session in the school must be created and ensured to promote the mental health of these children.
  9. The school management should inculcate non-violence and peace education to all children in the school as part of the value education to be included in the school curriculum.
  10. We recommend that appropriate departmental actions be initiated to streamline Television Programmes meant for children are conducive towards promoting positive values, healthy behaviour, manage impulsive urges and resolve conflicts in a non-violent manner. This is being recommended in the context of Television channels promoting violence and justifying inhuman behaviours even in a cartoon medium meant for children.
  11. The number of officials at the district level to regulate the functioning of matriculation schools is dismally inadequate. Hence we strongly recommend that the number of officials be appropriately increased and they should be given periodic trainings on Convention on the Rights of the Child, Indian Constitution, Right to Education Act 2009 and understanding of children based on their developmental milestones.
  12. The chairpersons and members of the Juvenile Justice Boards –JJB in all the 32 districts of Tamil Nadu should be given periodic trainings on UNCRC, Indian Constitution, objectives of the Juvenile Justice Act and also handling children in a child friendly manner during the trail process.