Girl's dad: She is now traumatised

Girl's dad: She is now traumatised
Mother of the girl (carrying a pink haversack), waiting to speak to the principal of the pre-school centre in Jurong.
PHOTO: The New Paper

The six-year-old boy in the centre of a controversy has been suspended from a PAP Community Foundation (PCF) childcare centre in Jurong for a week pending investigations, said the school.

He was accused of touching a girl, also six, inappropriately during nap time at the pre-school last Tuesday.

The girl's father posted the incident on his Facebook wall that no teacher was present when the alleged incident took place and that another child in the class had witnessed it.

It went viral after online news portals picked up the story over the weekend.

According to the post, the boy had purportedly put his hand under the girl's skirt during afternoon nap time. He allegedly admitted to doing so after being questioned.

The principal later told the girl's parents that the school has informed the boy's mother, who gave the school permission to mete out punishment but that was not allowed under PCF regulations.

"Not even a word of apology from the school and not even a word of apology from the boy's parent. My girl is now feeling so frightened and traumatised. She even voiced out that she is so scared that it will happen again," said the post by the girl's father.

A video was posted on YouTube last Friday, showing a confrontation between the girl's parents and PCF staff. Police officers were also seen trying to defuse the situation.

The girl's mother was heard crying and asking: "Is that right or not? She's my daughter? Of course I get upset."

In a statement to the media yesterday, PCF Chief Executive Officer Victor Bay said its headquarters was informed of the incident on Wednesday and has been investigating the matter.

"We deeply regret the incident and fully sympathise with the parents in their distress. Our top priority is the well-being of our young children," he said.

Kids under 7 'incapable of crime'

Children of pre-school age are generally curious about the differences between males and females.

They begin to explore these differences or "show curiosity about sexuality in play at a very young age, such as playing house or doctor", senior clinical psychologist Loo Wee Shyon of the Institute of Mental Health's Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry told The New Paper.

"There are some sexual behaviours that are problematic and warrant attention from parents, adults and even professionals - for example, if the child continues touching someone else's private parts even after he or she has been told consistently not to do so," he said.

Dr Loo said in such instances, parents and caregivers should remain calm and resist the impulse to react strongly or to tell the child that he or she has done something "dirty" or "shameful". The adult should intervene and divert the child to an appropriate activity "as soon as possible".

"The adult or parent should then calmly explain that it's not okay to touch someone else's private part because private parts are not for sharing," he said.

WITNESSED

Dr Loo added that adults should "try to explore where the child could have learnt the inappropriate behaviour and if they had been subjected to or witnessed any inappropriate sexual activity by someone".

"If unsure, they should share their concerns with a trusted adult, such as a counsellor, doctor or teacher," he said.

Children below the age of seven cannot be charged with offences because the law assumes they are doli incapax (Latin for incapable of crime).

Criminal lawyer Luke Lee said: "Under the age of seven, they are deemed to be too young and are incapable of forming the intent to commit a crime. Therefore, they cannot be held responsible for their actions."

Those below 12 will not be considered to have committed an offence if they are deemed not mature enough to understand the result of their behaviour.

According to the Ministry of Social and Family Development website, the main priority for very young offenders is to provide early intervention to prevent their behaviour from escalating to serious delinquency.

juditht@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 19, 2016.
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