Vulnerability factor surfaces beyond kindergarten age group, writes S. Vijay Kumar

Instances of school-going children being targeted to settle personal scores has emerged as a cause of concern among law-enforcing agencies. Though a majority of schools follow safety guidelines when it comes to letting children go out of the campus, the vulnerability factor surfaces beyond the kindergarten age group.

In a handful of abduction for ransom or blackmail cases reported in recent months, children were kidnapped not only by criminals but also persons well known to them and their family. A couple of weeks ago, a student was kidnapped by his neighbour, a physically challenged man in the ICF police station limits.

R. Sudhakar (3) was kidnapped by R. Satish Kumar (30), who came on his tri-cycle and picked up the child from the school. Satish was well known to the family and he used drop the boy at school on some occasions.

When the victim's parents alerted the police who launched a search operation, the accused, who took the boy to Tiruvannamalai, called Sudhakar's mother R. Vimala (27) and asked her to leave her family and live with him. He threatened to kill her son if she refused to cooperate. Police managed to locate the suspect and rescued Sudhakar.

In another case, a close relative of a kindergarten student kidnapped him while he was playing in front of his house. Knowing that police were after him, the suspect murdered the boy and dumped the body near the railway tracks at Tirumullaivoyal and escaped. Police arrested the accused later.

“Parents must make it a point to pick up their children from schools. In case it is not possible, they must nominate someone reliable in the family or outside. Neighbours or acquaintances whose antecedents are not known should not be allowed to get friendly with children. The antecedents of autorickshaw or van drivers transporting children to school should be verified,” says Deputy Commissioner of Police (Kilpauk) M.C. Sarangan.

Referring to the instructions of Commissioner of Police T. Rajendran asking banks and malls to install surveillance cameras covering the front view of their establishments, he urged educational institutions to think on those lines. “Security has emerged as a vital component in schools these days. Only trained security personnel should be engaged. Strangers posing as friends or relatives of the children should not be entertained. In the event of any suspicion, police assistance can be sought within minutes by dialling 100,” he said.