Ask any parent what their primary concern is, when it comes to their school-going children and the answer will almost always unanimously be "Safety"
Go on. Try it.
Health comes a close second. Safety is a critical concern because children spend time away from home and when they start school, we go crazy with worry until they come back, safe, smiling.
When my son started playschool, I was the one who cried my heart out at having to be parted from him for three hours.
When he started kindergarten, I was the one who cried, because he spent half a day away from home. I'd be at the school gate 15 minutes early and have nightmares about him rushing out on to the road with the sea of humanity that poured out as soon as the bell rang.
Both playschool and KG were within walking distance from home. But when he started first grade at 5.5 years, we had no choice but to explore transportation, since their school did not have a school bus. I bought a scooter and solved that issue until he could manage on his own.Â Even then, I'd say a prayer each time I thought of him crossing the six pronged road in the unruly traffic and sprinting across.
Every single day, we'd give him safety advice as one can never be too careful while traveling.
Now, when I see other parents in our apartment complex giving their children instructions as they wait for their school bus, I smile to myself.
Safety of school children is a joint effort from all concerned parties, including parents, who have a very important role to play.
We caution our children about their behavior towards others - their peers as well as those older than them. We teach them to interact politely and with respect. We tell them to be kind. We warn them about not talking to strangers. In this digital parenting age, we have the added responsibility of keeping an eye on them to ensure they don't fall victim to cyberbullying simply because we want them to be safe, happy and healthy.
To help us get closer to this goal, Tata Motors initiated a school bus safety program in 2013 titled "Hamare bus ki baat hai" across various cities in India. It encourages safe and comfortable travel of children by school bus by creating awareness and active participation of school authorities, support staff and school bus fleet operators so that everyone concerned can do a better job of school bus safety. The website also has information and tips about how parents can teach their children about safety. This novel initiative promotes safe travel of school children with active participation from all parties involved.
I find the slogan captivating as it has a wonderfully subtle pun. Hamare bus ki baat hai means "it is in our control" and can also mean "it is about our bus", taking the responsibility to encourage safety. Second, I like the way the whole school bus safety training activity is structured to engage everyone actively and inspire them to take action.
Support staff such as drivers, conductors, and attendants operating school buses is taught how to improve themselves in their daily tasks, helping them understand the psychology and behaviour of school children better.
The website offers information for parents to educate their children about proper behavior in the school bus.
What I really like is its structure, spread over five sessions:
If you are a parent, or have children in your family, I strongly urge you to:
Test your safety quotient and upgrade your knowledge about this safety movement. Take the school bus safety quiz
Have some fun, play the puzzle
School bus safety is a joint responsibility where each one of us must cooperate - and that includes parents, children, school authorities and bus staff.
Please visit this page to check out the cool visuals depicting safe travel - I just loved it!
Let's take the safe travel pledge today. Are you with me? Because, together, we can.