Efforts to equip schools, parents and teachers with skills to identify and support abused students

Published Date: 06 July 2021 09:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Dr Wan Rizal, Jalan Besar GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education with recent reports of sexual offences involving young children, whether the Ministry will consider reviewing and enhancing the current Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) Framework to safeguard the physical and mental well-being of students.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Dr Wan Rizal, Jalan Besar GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) what are the efforts to help schools handle sexual offences in schools; and (b) what are the kinds of support rendered to affected students and staff members.

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Dr Wan Rizal, Jalan Besar GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education whether there are any efforts to equip parents and teachers with the skills to look out for and recognise signs of distress and abuse in students and subsequently refer the matter for professional support or to relevant authorities where necessary.

Response

1.The safety of our students is of paramount importance to MOE.

2.MOE's Nurturing Early Learners (NEL) Framework for the pre-school sector includes guidelines for pre-school teachers to help children develop a positive self-concept, healthy habits and an awareness of safety practices.

3.MOE is reviewing the NEL Framework to include teaching children appropriate behaviours that promote self and group safety. These include body safety awareness, how to talk about feelings and seek help from adults when they feel hurt or unsafe. The revised framework will be launched in end 2022.

4.Currently, the topics of child abuse and neglect (including signs, symptoms and what educators should do) as well as concepts of body safety, such as identifying good/bad touch, are covered within the training content of the National Institute of Early Childhood (NIEC)'s pre-service certificate and diploma programmes. In-service teachers can also attend an ECDA-endorsed course on "Empowering Children with Body Safety Skills" conducted by Singapore Children's Society to learn ways to teach children protective skills to prevent sexual abuse.

5.In primary schools, students learn about personal safety and protection from abuse through Character and Citizenship Education. They are taught how to recognise sexual abuse and harassment, skills to protect themselves both in the physical and online space, and laws that protect them. These lessons are developmentally appropriate, start from Primary 1 and are reinforced throughout their years in school. Students also learn help-seeking skills and are provided with resources and community helplines to alert trusted adults when their personal safety is compromised.

6.School Leaders, teachers, School Counsellors and Student Welfare Officers, are trained to identify and report child abuse to Child Protective Service in the Ministry of Social and Family Development. They look out for signs of distress in students and provide counselling and other forms of support. When there is a suspected abuse case, the School Leaders work with the School Counsellor to report to the relevant authorities and support the student sensitively. Our schools will continue to monitor and support the students and involve their parents or other agencies where relevant.

7.Schools also engage and work with parents as they play a critical role in providing guidance to their children. Parents are provided with information on how to look out for signs of distress and to encourage their children to share their concerns with them.

8.For teachers and staff who experienced harassment or abuse at work, they report the cases to the School Leaders, Superintendents in charge of the school or directly to Ministry of Education. Those who are psychologically or emotionally affected will be supported by professional counsellors. MOE takes a very serious view of any misconduct that may impinge on the safety and well-being of students or staff members. Every case will be thoroughly investigated by an independent unit in MOE. We will not hesitate to take disciplinary actions, and where necessary, report the case to the Police.

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