More responsibility needed for the safety of kids

August 08, 2019 - 15:23

Frustration, pain, heartache and above all else, anger. Just a few of many emotions people are feel right about now after hearing the tragic news a six-year-old boy died after he was left on a school bus in Hà Nội on Tuesday.


Many parents at Gateway international school have today brought their children to the school themselves following the tragic death of a boy who were found dead after being forgotten on the school's bus. — VNA/VNS Photo Thành Đạt

Khánh Vân

Frustration, pain, heartache and above all else, anger.

Just a few of many emotions people are feel right about now after hearing the tragic news a six-year-old boy died after he was left on a school bus in Hà Nội on Tuesday.

Pain because he was just a first-grader at an international school with his whole life ahead of him and this was just his second day at school in the new academic year.

Heartache because for nine long hours he was alone, terrified, with no clue how to get out of the dire situation.

And frustration, because why did nobody find him over such a long space of time?

An autopsy revealed the child had suffocated, and suffered a blood clot on his brain.  

And we are angry because we comprehend the situation this poor little soul must have found himself in. Alone, trapped and his life ebbing away.

The incident has caused public outcry about the awareness and responsibility of the school and the teachers in ensuring safety for the pupils.

The teacher who picked up the boy in the morning failed to calculate or take a roll-call to make sure all the kids leave the bus to go to class.

She realised he was missing in the afternoon when she was waiting for the boy to show up at the school’s bus stop to take him home.

She called for help but it was too late.

And the formal teacher of the boy also failed to take full responsibility when he was absent from the class on that day.

All she did was to inform the school’s management board about the absence of the pupil without contacting his family to find out the reason of his absence or contact with the teacher in charge of picking up the boy.

The teachers, the driver and the president of the management board of the school accepted responsibility. The case is now under investigation by Hà Nội police.

Whatever happens in the days, weeks and months to come will never bring the child back to life. None of us can comprehend the pain and suffering his parents feel right now.

Hundreds of schools nationwide still provide bus services for students and thousands of students still take school buses every day with next to no problems.

But as rare as it is, as unusual the set of circumstance are, schools MUST take note. It can happen, it has happened, and it must never happen again.

This is just one among many risks that threaten children when they travel by this means of transport in any country in the world.

The Republic of Korea last year issued a regulation requesting all schools install a sleeping child check system on their school buses after a four-year-old girl in Seoul died in similar circumstances.

In the US, around 25 million children using school buses each day, according to the American School Bus Council. In order to ensure safety for the kids, school districts in Florida ask bus drivers to check every seat at the end of the route to make sure no one is left.

A school district in Washington required all school buses to install alarming system after a kindergarten student was left on the bus for one hour last November. It also provided training for school bus drivers and teachers supervising kids on buses.

It is time for schools and localities to review and take appropriate measures to ensure safety for children and students.

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc yesterday requested the Ministry or Education and Training strengthen measures to ensure safety for children and have specific regulations and directions for schools in providing bus services to ensure quality and safety.

The education sector has improved teaching for sure, but focus seems to be put too much on renovating textbooks and learning methods.

Teachers and students also need to be equipped with essential life skills to prevent such incidents.

What we also need is to reform to build a safer, healthier and a more friendly environment for the kids to make schools a real safe place to learn and play.

It is also necessary to raise public awareness and responsibilities to prevent risks such as traffic accidents, fire or natural disasters, that are threatening children everywhere and at any time.

Three children aged between five and seven drowned on Tuesday while swimming in a river in central Quảng Bình Province.

In April, two children were among the victims of a fire that broke out at a warehouse in Hà Nội’s Nam Từ Liêm District.

Last December, a five-year-old girl fell to her death from a 9th floor apartment in HCM City.

A system of child welfare inspectors and social workers is needed to protect children - the future of the nation.

We really need practical actions now, not words. Don’t wait until the accident happens to find solutions to fix it. — VNS