In the last four months, Pune city police have recorded three cases of sexual abuse on school buses. To prevent such incidents in the future, police say that communication — between parents and children, parents and schools, and schools and police — is the key. In the latest case registered at Uttam Nagar police station on March 13, a 65-year-old school bus driver was arrested for molesting a 10-year-old repeatedly. In another case registered on February 4 at Kondhwa police station, a four-year-old girl was sexually abused by the bus driver. In the third case, registered in December last year, a 10-year-old girl was molested and threatened by a man who was acting as a substitute school bus driver for a school in Vimannagar.
While police stations across Pune conduct regular awareness drives at schools within their jurisdictions, to create awareness about sexual abuse, police personnel say that communication is the key to prevent such incidents. Assistant Commissioner of Police (Chatushrungi division), Vaishali Jadhav, said, “We believe that communication at all levels is very important. There has to be dialogue between parents and teachers, and also between school authorities and police. But above all, parents need to regularly talk to their children. Parents and teachers should also keep a close watch on behavioural changes, if any, in their children. When we conduct awareness programmes in schools, we tell students about the concept of good touch and bad touch, and the need to speak to their teachers and parents. These sessions are conducted for both boys and girls.”
“It is a positive sign that schools are taking proactive steps. But we still see cases in which school authorities didn’t report these cases to police immediately; that’s a punishable offence under the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act. These efforts are ongoing and evolving and it important that schools, parents and police learn work together,” added ACP Jadhav. A senior woman police officer, who has conducted training sessions on how to handle cases of sexual abuse for police personnel, said, “The police machinery is much more evolved in handling such cases. We ensure psychological counselling and the case is always investigated by a woman police officer.”