Outcry after girls made to train in pit with snake

PHOTO: YouTube screengrab

PETALING JAYA - The act of throwing a snake into a muddy pit with schoolgirls as part of character-building training has sparked condemnation. The instructors involved will be hauled up.

A 2:49-minute video that went viral on social media showed about 10 primary schoolgirls being instructed to wade across a muddy pit.

The terrified students were seen screaming and crying when a snake was thrown into the pit.

Those who tried to get out of the pit to escape the slithering snake were sprayed with water.

The training was believed to have taken place in Kuala Kangsar, Perak.

National Parent-Teachers Association Chairman Prof Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan condemned the act.

"The Government should ban this kind of training. Suspend the training centre and put the trainers involved on blacklist.

"The trainers should be sent for rehabilitation, themselves. It is a live snake. Not a toy snake. What were they thinking?" he asked.

Psychiatrist Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj fears the psychological impact of such shock factor on young teenagers.

"For some participants who are more vulnerable, it can create unnecessary phobia that can have long-term implication," said Dr Andrew, who is also Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president.

He added that there was no scientific evidence to show that such kind of intervention could toughen up an individual.

Malaysian Civil Defence Force deputy director-general of operations Datuk Selamat Dahalan said the incident was being investigated, and a report should be ready within a week.

"We regret that this has happened. This is an individual act and not sanctioned by the department. In fact, it is against our standard operating procedure to have such training for primary school children," he said.

He added that the training modules for primary school children usually involved demonstrations of what they should do in an emergency, some basic first-aid training and fire awareness.

"The one showed in the video is nothing like what we have conducted before. There should not be any water spraying or making the kids wade in a muddy pit - let alone involve a snake," he said.

The department, he said was in the process of identifying the instructors in the video for action to be taken.