Updated: 07/08/2014 01:47

Schools teach children to recognise unacceptable behaviour exhibited by sexual predators: Education Minister Heng Swee Keat



Schools teach children to recognise unacceptable behaviour exhibited by sexual predators: Education Minister Heng Swee Keat

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat says students are taught in schools to recognise unacceptable behaviour and seek help. 

He was responding in parliament to a question on how students are protected from sexual predators. 

Mr Heng says at the primary level, students are taught how to recognise abuse, to identify the types of behaviour that are of concern or are socially unacceptable, and how to seek help. 

At the secondary level, students are taught what constitutes sexual grooming, and how to protect themselves from those with malicious intent. 

Mr Heng added that the Education Ministry also has a stringent selection and screening process for teachers, which includes an interview by a panel of senior educators. 

Those looking to join the profession are also assessed for their motivation, sense of responsibility, and understanding of accountability. 

There is also a Code of Professional Conduct for teachers that was shared with all of them last year, that sets out the boundaries they are to observe with their students. 

Mr Heng says his ministry takes a very serious view of misconduct by teachers. 

"My instruction is that if there is any complaint of improper behaviour, each and every case must be thoroughly investigated, and where there is any evidence of violation of the code, or of criminal behaviour, the officer involved will be dealt with severely."

And they are drawing lessons from past cases of improper conduct. 

Mr Heng also added that his ministry would study a suggestion made by Member of Parliament for Mountbatten SMC, Lim Biow Chuan, that there be a formalised buddy system among teachers to look out for each other. 

And given that the most recent case of improper conduct involved a former head of Character and Citizenship Education in a secondary school, Mr Heng said that they will consider extending such a system to all teachers, including senior teachers.

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