Parliamentary Replies

May 18, 2018

Equipping Students to Protect Themselves Against Predatory Sexual Behaviours & Identification of Student Victims

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Miss Cheng Li Hui, Tampines GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) whether the current sex education curriculum adequately equips students with the knowledge to protect themselves against predatory sexual behaviours; (b) whether there are plans to engage and involve parents to introduce appropriate sex education content at home; (c) what is the number of cases involving statutory rape and predatory sexual behaviours that have been reported through schools over the last five years; (d) whether teachers are adequately trained to identify students who are victims of such sexual misconduct; and (e) how are such reported cases being dealt with.

Response

1. We have a carefully planned curriculum, starting from lower primary and to upper secondary, to impart to our students the awareness and skills to protect themselves from sexual exploitation and abuse.

2. For example, in lower primary, students are taught how to differentiate between a good and bad touch; in upper primary, they learn things like how to protect themselves from sexual advances, setting clear physical boundaries in a relationship, and the double-edged nature of the Internet. In secondary school, they learn more about the usefulness and dangers of cyberspace, dealing with relationships, and differentiating between healthy relationship and sexual grooming, etc.

3. All these aim towards inculcating in our students a strong sense of the right to be treated with respect, to protect themselves, to not feel guilty or shame if they are victims, and seek help and counsel.

4. Parents too play a key role in their children’s sexuality education. The schools support parents with information on what their children are learning about sexuality and also offer parenting advice on how to initiate discussions on sexuality issues at home. We encourage parents to be open in discussing their beliefs and values, and being available to guide their children on sexuality matters.

5. We understand the member is concerned about this issue and wishes to know the number of cases of sexual offences every year. Our numbers are low by international standards. We monitor the numbers but have not been releasing them. Instead, we are raising awareness through education, counsel and advice in schools and within families.

6. Our teachers are trained to look out for signs of distress in students and refer them to the school counsellors or other professional support when necessary. Suspected cases of statutory rape and predatory sexual behaviours involving a parent, carer or other household member are reported to the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Child Protection Service. When cases involve non-household members, parents will be advised to report to the police. If parents refuse to do so, the schools will make the report. However, it is sometimes difficult for schools to track such cases as parents may not keep the schools informed, and the outcomes of the police investigation may not be made known to schools.