Fri, May 15, 2009
The New Paper
'We're trying to keep boy in school'

ONE of the boys in the videos is a problem student, said his school principal.

The secondary school's discipline master and teachers had stumbled upon the videos on Stomp and YouTube.

Related link:
» He was a good boy: What went wrong? » 'WE ARE JUSTIFIED'

They have since spoken to the boy and reported the matter to the police, said the principal, whose school is in the east.

'He is a Secondary 3 Express student who has since dropped to the Normal stream and is under counselling,' he added.

'He's one of the pupils at risk and for the past two years, we have tried very hard to keep him in school, but have not received much help from his parents.'

The principal said the boy had told the discipline master that only he and his friend from an ITE were involved in the pranks. It's not known which ITE the other boy goes to.

He said the matter was under police investigation and that the boy had been rebellious to teachers and often came to school late.

'He would sometimes come to school at around 11am. But he has improved this year and is actually a very nice boy and speaks very well.

'I hope the police will let him off but give him a stern warning that he has to come to school,' he said.

He said the boy plays basketball well enough for him to be part of the school team, if not for his poor attendance.


The principal felt that caning the boy may be counter-productive.

'I don't think we're going to cane him. One of our challenges is making him stay in school. If we cane him, he may leave school.

'It may also lead to anger building up. It is so easy to leave him by the wayside but we need to keep him in school to give him an education.'

When asked what action the school would take, the principal said that all punishment would seek to instill values and social awareness in the boy.

'We will definitely make him do service (for the) community, go apologise to the people he has affected in the videos, and even to personally go down to Changkat Changi Secondary School (CCSS) to apologise,' he said.

(A netizen had wrongly identified one of the boys as a CCSS student.)

He added that any action would only be taken after the mid-year examinations, which are on now.

In 1994, Michael Fay, an American, then 18, was sentenced to four months' jail, six strokes of the cane and a fine of $3,500 for vandalising cars with spray paint and hot tar.

The number of strokes was reduced to four after US officials requested leniency.

Just wants attention

Six parents contacted by The New Paper agreed with the school that caning was not the way to go.

Ms Audra Chow, 37, a mother of three children, said: 'Caning may actually make him worse. I agree with the school which sees the bigger picture of keeping the boy in school, where he is monitored and kept in a controlled environment for more than half a day.

'It's very good that the school is still working towards keeping him in school.'

Most of the parents also felt that a boys' home would be the best option of dealing with the boys.

Mrs Ong Siew Choo, 52, a manager, said: 'You can send him to a boys' home to learn to be better, but not cane him because he is just mischievous and no one was injured.

'In a way, he just wants attention and it's not that serious.'

However, Mr Sebastian Anthony, 46, a father of three, felt the boys should not be sent away.

He said: 'Sending them to a boys' home is treating the symptoms. We need to look at the environment the boys are in - home, school and with friends.'

He added that the attention-seeking behaviour may be solved with counselling, but definitely not with caning.

Mr Anthony felt that it would also be useful for his family to undergo counselling.

Pearly Tan, newsroom intern

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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