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AWARE says better public education needed to address recent spate of teachers sexually abusing students

What is needed is "more public education promoting honest, informed and non-judgmental understanding of the reality of sexual violence, especially in schools, institutions, and organisations,” said Laika Jumabhoy, the assistant manager at AWARE’s Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC)

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Singapore—In the last six months, there have been five cases of teachers sexually abusing their students. The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) believes that more public education is needed in order to address this problem, which could cause deep emotional and mental harm to the students who are victimized.

In April, a 36-year-old male teacher received a jail sentence of six and a half years for the commission of sex acts and molestation of his students.

In June, a female teacher, age 29, who had become physically intimate with her 15-year-old male student during their nine-month ‘relationship’ was sent to jail for two years and nine months.

In July, news broke out of a 34-year-old male teacher who received a 16-month jail sentence due to having an inappropriate and indecent relationship with his 15-year-old female student, who he was tutoring outside of classes.

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In August, a 41-year-old male teacher who had impregnated his teenage student was sent to jail for 8 years.

The latest incident of sexual abuse from a teacher made news earlier this month. On September 3, a 35-year-old male teacher received a six month jail sentence after it was discovered that he had kissed his 14-year-old female student twice on the lips.

Speaking to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), Laika Jumabhoy, the assistant manager at AWARE’s Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC), said that sometimes the children who report the abuse are not believed, even by their parents.

Some parents, also, may have a hard time dealing with the aftermath of their child’s sexual abuse, even blaming themselves for failing to protect their child.

She said, “They may also be at a loss as to what do next, both practically and emotionally, for the child.

They might dismiss children’s disclosures as the child being confused, attention-seeking or misbehaving, especially as the children themselves might not clearly communicate exactly what has happened to them.”

Hence the need for more public education concerning the reality of sexual violence.

“So, we need more public education promoting honest, informed and non-judgmental understanding of the reality of sexual violence, especially in schools, institutions, and organisations.”

Ms Jumabhoy also talked about the long-term difficulties that abused children may end up facing, such as depression, anxiety or self-harm, as well as challenges in creating and sustaining trusting relationships.

And sadly enough, in SACC’s experience, it is adults who are trusted family members or authority figures, which include teachers, coaches and faith leaders, who are the most prevalent type of sexual abuser when it comes to minors.

“The perpetrator is in a position of trust. He intentionally builds up an image of being an upstanding member of the community, which facilitates the process of sexual grooming and subsequent perpetration of abuse.

“This power has a stronghold on children, silencing them and making it difficult for them to speak up. Often they feel like no one will believe them as it is their word against the word of a person in a position of authority.”

-/TISG

Read related:Singapore boys among sexual abuse victims of paedophile known as “one of Australia’s worst sex offenders”

Singapore boys among sexual abuse victims of paedophile known as “one of Australia’s worst sex offenders”

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