Multi-pronged approach to tackling teachers' sexual misconduct

SINGAPORE - It is indeed a concern that inappropriate relationships between teachers and students have been taking place ("Rise in cases of teachers' sexual misconduct a worry" by Mr Chan Cheng Lin; June 23").

There could be many reasons for this, and we should hold all parties, and not just the Education Ministry, accountable.

The ministry already has a stringent selection process for teachers in place. Would-be educators must go through a preliminary selection, followed by interviews and training at the National Institute of Education.

That sexual misconduct still happens shows how difficult it is to judge a person's character.

Nonetheless, schools can be more stringent with supervision and policies that contribute to a safe environment for students.

Family plays an important part as well when it comes to taking care of students' welfare. Emotionally insecure teenagers may seek companionship from their teachers, who represent mentorship and guidance in their lives.

A multi-pronged approach is needed to tackle sexual misconduct.

First, teachers must maintain high moral standards and a sense of professionalism at all times.

Second, principals and administrators must be on the lookout for signs of sexual misconduct.

Finally, parents must give their children attention and time, so the youngsters can develop healthy self-esteem.

If parents provide a caring and safe environment at home, then teens would not seek comfort elsewhere.

Parents and educators must also work together to teach students to recognise inappropriate behaviour from teachers, and how to reject and report such advances.

The rising number of cases of teacher-student sexual misconduct is worrying. All parties must work together to protect students and prevent such incidents.

-Delane Lim

This article was first published on JULY 2, 2014.
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