The transport system of a country plays a very important role in its development. It provides a reliable and cheap means of access, ensures a safe journey, reduces congestion on the roads and helps to decrease pollution.
For any country to come up with a good public transport system that fulfils its roles and responsibilities, it takes years of careful planning, and a huge investment on resources, effort and time. While governments in India are engaged in developing an efficient transport system, the situation at present is far from desirable.
Even as our transport system is being upgraded, a significant chunk of those using it are children. However, there are no special rules to protect the interests and safety of children who commute using public transport.
Therefore, it is important to be aware of the dangers they may face while using public transport. And, along with the dangers, it also necessary to have a knowledge of the precautions to take beforehand and while using public transport.
Here are some tips for parents who can also share them grown-up children to ensure their safety and prevent them from undergoing a bad experience.
- Primary schoolers should always be accompanied by a guardian. This guardian can be the school bus service person if the child’s parents have enrolled him for the bus service.
- Children should be taught to inform the person in charge of a bus (the bus conductor or the driver) whenever they face a problem, like feeling unwell or being harassed or bullied. Parents should also educate their children about safe touch and unsafe touch early on.
- Ride along with your child for a few days, guiding her at every step. Later, ride with her as a spectator until you are confident that your child can commute safely on her own in a public transport.
- Make your child aware of the fare for the ride, the need to always travel with a ticket, and the stops or stations where she needs to board and get off.
- Always remind your child to never board a running vehicle. Ensure that he gets ready and leaves with enough time in hand. This would prevent him from hurrying, which increases the chances of indulging in rash behaviour on the road.
- Teach your child the safety rules of the mode of transport she would be using. For example, not to travel on the footboard of trains and buses.
- Encourage your child to identify individuals who commute with him every day and travel with them as a group.
- If your child has to travel late at night, it is important for her to know about the last transport option, the time it departs, and when it arrives at the destination.
- Teach your child to not open his bag, wallet or purse often while travelling by public transport and keep an eye on his belongings.
- Tell your child to be aware of her surroundings and trust her instincts in uncomfortable or suspicious situations.
- Train your child to mark out the emergency exit or an escape route as soon as he boards a bus or a train to get out during times of emergency.
- Teach your child to make a mental note of the unique feature of every mode of public transport she uses. For example, the difference between the colour of a private cab and a general cab, private bus and public bus, fast and slow trains, shared and general autos.
- Parents should know their child’s schedule and the route she would take to reach the school, college, coaching classes or a friend’s house.
- Encourage your child to speak about his mistakes, for example, if he forgets to buy the ticket or crosses the road when he shouldn’t. Tell your child how she can avoid making the same mistake the next time.
Parents should always accompany young children on public transport. However, by the time children turn into preteens and teens, they start exhibiting more responsible behaviour. This is the stage when they can begin taking control of some of the things they do in their daily lives. So, this may be the right age when they can begin using public transport alone. However, before parents allow their child to travel alone, they should make sure that their child will remain safe and comfortable.
Parent should also maintain a friendly, caring and honest relationship with their children to encourage them to share unpleasant experiences. It is also important for parents to stay in touch with their child’s teachers, friends, and friend’s parents.
In case parents suspect that there is something wrong, they should not shy away from asking questions or contacting the school or college authorities or involving the police.
Shaziya Shaikh, is an aspiring journalist and a creative writer who is a part of Safecity’s WritersMovement.
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