Are your children safe on their way to school?

Photo source: Understood.

NEWCASTLE – Public transport simplifies life. It is a convenient, cost effective and environmentally friendly way to get around. However, all is not moonlight and roses.

Recently, a six-year-old learner of a local school accidentally boarded the wrong bus after school. The problem was the leaner couldn’t identify the right bus, as they all looked alike.

Her father was alerted by an acquaintance. Trying to locate her for some time, and she was eventually found, unharmed and safe. The father would like to remain anonymous, for fear of victimisation. He was terrified, and thought he would never see his daughter again. “Anything could have happened to my child. She is so young and the world can be a scary place,” he said.

The principal of the school, which cannot be identified as only the Department of Education may communicate with the media, said she was unaware of the incident, and should have been reported to the school. The deputy principal said this was an isolated incident, but nevertheless very serious. They urged parents to communicate effectively with school management.

The principal said buses and taxis were not very safe for children as older children could bully the little ones. She suggested all buses transporting school children should have a conductor. “Another issue that learners face is they don’t know the routes the transport takes, or its destination, and sometimes end up at the wrong schools.” It was also said that there were some instances where children complained the driver of the transport was intoxicated.

Another school was also contacted for comment. The principal said the transport system had many problems. “We have had incidents where children were left behind by their transports. Our learners are too young, and they shouldn’t be put on the big buses as there is no control. There are smaller modes of public transport for them to use, and parents must seriously consider making these changes.”

He said buses transporting children should have conductors so they could monitor the children. He said a few weeks ago a child was left behind at school, and he had to take the child to Blaauwbosch.

Read full story in the Newcastle Advertiser newspaper.


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