Maltese parents are turning to GPS trackers for their children as the 2021 – 2022 scholastic year begins – and stories of students being forgotten in minivans have already emerged barely a week into the school season.
After a three-year-old girl was forgotten in a minivan and a driver was suspended as an Education Ministry investigation is underway, parents want an added layer of security in knowing where their children are at all times.
Trackers, which connect to the internet and show where your child is at all times via a Smartphone app, are suddenly being seen as a much-needed scholastic addition in some parent circles.
They typically go for about €50 each.
“All of us got them overnight – we had wanted one before but now with this story it’s even more important,” one mother of a four-year-old who attends a private school told Lovin Malta. “It was like a ripple effect, but many of my friends already had a tracker.”
She said she wanted to be able to see where her child was at all times.
“If they put her on the wrong van, now I’ll know,” she continued. “She’s four, she doesn’t know her bus number, my phone number, where we live, she just doesn’t know.”
“It also helps me plan my day – if I know they left a town at a certain time, I know I can leave my location at the same time… There are loads of pros to use it as a working mom.”
Though buses and minivans have been used for decades to ferry children to school in Malta, renewed focus on the lax approach in some areas to the safeguarding of children has led to parents finding ways to make sure they have peace of mind.
The story of three-year-old Marija shined a spotlight on the way very young children and toddlers can be forgotten easily – and it’s not just her, with other parents opening up about how they had had their children forgotten in similar circumstances.
The mother of the four-year-old ended by saying she believes all school transport should have a tracker on them – “then we wouldn’t need to get eight per van” and hoped that at the very least supervisors would be on every ride to watch over the children.
Do you think GPS trackers could be an answer to fears over children going missing?