LETTER | Last year Malaysians wept alongside T Nhaveen’s family and friends as he breathed his last, a victim of bullying that cost a life. One of his assaulters beat him up three years before attacking him again in 2017. The school knew about it but didn’t act quick enough or aggressive enough.
This year, amongst the many bullying cases, two schools – in Hulu Kelang and Penang, teachers have been found guilty of sexual misconduct by their schools through reports by parents.
In Ampang, a male teacher who had molested a female student in 2017 had also molested a student a few years ago in a different school.
In Penang, a male religious teacher performed oral sex on students as young as 10 for the past year. Six police reports were made by parents and yet the teacher had been transferred to desk duty by the Penang Education Department pending an internal inquiry.
Teachers and schools tend to exercise reluctance in coming out to push for investigations for fear of any action taken against them because their act had brought ‘shame’ to the school by the district Education Office, state Education Department or even the Education Ministry in the past, under BN rule.
The culture of not reporting or in some cases to sweep the issues under the carpet is partly due to the culture of the government at the time discouraging any form of exposés or revelations of shortcomings, issues and even sexual misconduct or bullying cases as what we have seen in the past.
Section 29 of the Child Act 2001 promotes “any child care provider who fails to comply commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both”. Therefore schools should use it without fear or favour to expose sex predators and bullies amongst them.
Schools that report on acts of sexual misconduct and bullying should be rewarded and given merit points for their courage in exposing these monsters, which was something the previous government had no political will to carry out. This will encourage schools not to take 'wait and see' attitude in the hopes of the issue going away and report immediately
I had spoken about it in my speech to debate the royal address and hope that Islamic Development Department and the Education Ministry will ensure that tahfiz schools, government schools and international schools will be given the due recognition and the support when they come forward to make a report.
KASTHURI PATTO is the MP for Batu Kawan.
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