By Mehernosh Pithawalla
New Year’s Eve is traditionally when people make resolutions for the forthcoming year. A time of reflection on the past year and, in particular, all the things they would have done differently, all the things in their lives they would like to improve. Such commitments have become a part of everybody’s annual routine. While it’s time for reflection, data shows that 80 per cent people back off from their new-year resolutions when they fail in January.
The national lockdown imposed across the country since March 24, 2020 has provided the citizens with a period of ‘forced’ reflection, making resolutions for the new normal that they envision. Unable to go outside and exercise, play with children, visit friends — we are presented with a unique opportunity to consider: when we can go outside again, what sort of ‘outside’ do we desire? Parents, who are spending more time than ever with their children, are reflecting on the level of safety when they are alone at home.
Research data shows that among over 5,000 Delhi-based school children, and a slightly smaller sample of parents last year, 70 per cent of parents of children aged between 8 and 10 years didn’t allow them to play outdoors unsupervised. This figure compares with a global average of 55 per cent of parents who don’t let their children play outside.
The source of parents’ concern is evident. As per data from NCRB, crimes against children in India have increased by almost 300 per cent in the last six years. Delhi Police registered 2,618 cases of kidnapping of kids in 2018. Other data-points from the survey (Child Safety Report by Godrej Security Solutions) appeared equally revealing; 66 per cent of children surveyed claimed to have used a mobile phone before their eighth birthday. It is not surprising that most modern parents have progenies who are more technologically aware than they are.
According to the same research, however, 89 per cent of children younger than eight have an emergency number handy, and know how to use it. This is a huge insight; the vast majority of India’s youngest generation are able to reach their parents in the event of an emergency.
However, mobile telephony is not a substitute for parental care. The data reveals that less than a fifth (17.8 per cent) of children feel safe without their parents, even at home alone. Technology in these cases becomes as an additional safeguard, to provide more opportunities for children to play outside, and greater levels of confidence to their parents.
The lockdown has really highlighted the plight of many of the country’s children; other research among Indian parents reveals that 56 per cent believe their children have fewer opportunities to play outside than they did at their age.
Mobile technology exists to remain in contact with the youngest members of the family, wherever they are, and to be able to connect with them immediately, should the need arise. Today’s generation of school children are perfectly at ease with technology. The time has come to harness both trends, to create an ‘outside’ environment which is truly accessible to our children; which they can explore in complete security. To ensure the safety of children in a post lockdown scenario when everyone has to go back to their work places, Indian parents will be urged to look at enhancing their home security. Technology beyond mobile phones, such as video door phones and CCTV cameras have also come in handy to parents to monitor children when they are alone at home.
After the lockdown, when citizens have had plenty of time to reflect, their ‘post lockdown’ resolution will be clear: to ensure that when confinement is finally over, it is only truly over even for children.
(The writer is the Vice President and Global Head Marketing, Sales and Innovation, of Godrej Security Solutions)
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