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We expect our children to be safe at school

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As we enter the first full week of our 2015 Child Month celebrations, we must give thanks that the outcome of the incident at the Calliaqua Anglican School last week, in which five pupils ingested rat poison, was not more serious.{{more}}

Our information is that all the children affected were discharged from the hospital and should be back in school by now. The parents are, however, demanding answers, and justifiably so, for we expect that when we send our children to school, all reasonable measures would be taken to keep them safe and healthy. Of course, some accidents are unavoidable, but we don’t consider last week’s incident to be one of those.

The Ministry of Health has said that the Environmental Health Department followed established protocols when placing the poison around the school compound. The protocols may have been followed in terms of how and where the poison was placed, but perhaps not when.

Procedures involving the use of toxic substances or dangerous equipment should never be carried out while school is in session, as there is always the risk that curious eyes may be following every move, awaiting the opportunity to investigate more closely, placing themselves and others in danger.

We trust that coming out of this incident, the ministries of health and education will review their health and safety policies, especially in relation to our educational institutions.

This year, 2015, is shaping up to be a brutal one for our youngest citizens. In January, we lost seven at Rock Gutter, while they were on their way to school; two weeks ago, a pre-schooler died in a most horrible manner while getting into a minivan; and about a month ago, a teenage girl died after consuming a poisonous substance.

As adults, we have the responsibility to care for and protect our children. Let us in our day-to-day interactions with them and by our actions in general, adopt a more defensive, caring and careful attitude towards all children, not just our own.

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