Most educators are morally upright people who will not do anything to harm their students.
This was the general sentiment expressed when The New Paper asked 15 people for their views on the two men who were sentenced to jail yesterday for having sex with their underage students.
A primary school teacher, who wanted to be known only as Madam Hana, 37, said: "Please don't tar all educators with the same brush. I assure you, these offenders are just a tiny minority."
Said Madam Hana, who has a son, 10, and a daughter, 13: "Nearly all teachers and coaches only want the best from their students. They won't even think of having sex with their students."
Linda Zeng, 17, a first-year student at Raffles Institution, agreed.
She said: "I've met lots of great teachers who were very kind to me. I play table tennis and my male coach is very professional."
Since 2009, there have been at least five other cases of educators who were jailed for committing sexual offences with their underage students.
On Feb 23, 2009, a married female teacher was jailed for 10 months for having sex with a then-15-year-old boy. She was the first woman to be taken to court for committing the offence.
On June 30, 2014, a male teacher was jailed for four years and nine months after pleading guilty to four counts of having sex with his then-15-year-old former student. He also admitted to one count of performing an obscene act on her.
Madam Hana heaved a sigh when TNP told her about these cases, saying: "I think, even one such case is one too many."
She said that in her school, teachers are told to refrain from having personal ties with their students, but it is something that is difficult to enforce.
"We can't personally monitor the activities of every teacher once he or she leaves the school premises.
"Therefore, teachers must learn to practise restraint when dealing with their students."
She also said that teachers in charge of extra-curricular activities must keep a close eye on the coaches they hire.
They should also advise their students not to fraternise with them in their personal time.
A retired teacher who wanted to be known only as Madam J, 66, agreed.
Madam J, who taught for 35 years, said parents also play a very important role in ensuring their children's safety.
She said they should educate their children on how to behave around teachers and coaches.
Madam J said: "I think that with the Internet, kids are now more sexualised at a younger age. Parents should tell their loved ones on how to be well-behaved.
"Children must also be advised to refrain from all sexual contact until they come of age.
"Parents and their children must have an open line of communication so that they can discuss issues such as sex together."
A taxi driver who wanted to be known only as Mr Wee, 50, told TNP that Singaporeans should not let these sex offenders tarnish the good name of the teaching profession here.
The father of a two-year-old girl said: "I've read in the papers about many dedicated teachers who have helped their students to shine. I think every job - even mine - has its own share of bad hats.
"But I know that most teachers are good people who are dedicated to their jobs. We must appreciate their contribution to society."
This article was first published on January 14, 2016.
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