SINGAPORE: In the wake of videos showing young children mistreated at Kinderland preschools last month, Workers’ Party MP Gerald Giam (Aljnunied GRC) asked in Parliament last week whether the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) would require all preschools to adopt a Child Protection Policy.

He also inquired if the ECDA would lay out such a policy for preschools to customise to their own needs. “A Child Protection Policy will articulate the minimum standards laid out in government regulations and may also include additional safeguarding commitments that are tailored to the school’s unique circumstances,” Mr Giam explained.

In August, a preschool teacher was seen rough-handling young children at Kinderland Preschool at Woodlands Mart in videos shared online. This led to the suspension of the teacher, a 33-year-old woman. On Aug 30, ECDA said she was barred from working in the preschool sector and issued a warning.

Another Kinderland teacher, a 48-year-old woman, was arrested on Aug 29 after a video showed that she allegedly hurt a child.

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Mr Giam wrote that, after these incidents, many parents have been concerned about the safety of their young children.

In a Monday (Sept 25) Facebook post, he added that a Child Protection Policy would protect schools and teachers. Such a policy would prevent baseless accusations by students and their parents by establishing clear boundaries of behaviour for everyone.

“In response, Minister of State Sun Xueling held up three sets of regulations and policy documents totalling over 200 pages that govern early childhood development to protect children, and explained that it is not for a lack of policies (that the incidents happened) but what is important is how well they are executed on the ground,” wrote Mr Giam.

Mr Giam added that he appreciated that the Minister of State brought all the documents to show another policy would be unnecessary, but that was not the point.

“A school’s Child Protection Policy can encapsulate all the existing regulations in a liveable and breathable format. It could be published on the school’s website for all stakeholders to read. At the same time, it could be customised to the school’s unique needs.

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For example, the Singapore American School’s Child Safeguarding Commitment prohibits teachers from giving students rides alone in their car, or accepting social media friend requests from students until after they graduate from high school.

Most companies have a Data Protection Policy to protect their customers’ personal data, despite the existence of the Personal Data Protection Act and regulations.

Why not do the same to enhance the safety of our children?” /TISG

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