Teach kids to speak up when threatened with sexual abuse

As a mother of two school-going children, it disturbs me to read about children being sexually abused in schools by supposedly trusted authorities ("Encouraging students to report sexual abuse"; Oct 8).

The Ministry of Education (MOE) needs to do a lot more than just encourage students to make a report after the abuse has taken place.

Our schools teach values such as empathy, resilience, respect and kindness. But what is missing is courage.

In most of the reports on sexual abuse, it was noted that a simple "don't tell anyone" was enough to inflict fear and shut the child up.

We must teach our children to be bold and courageous enough to speak up when they know that what is done to them is wrong.

I agree that parents play an important role in communicating with their children. But by the time the children go home and tell their parents, the abuse has already taken place.

Our children need to be bold enough to put a stop to such abuse before it happens.

The MOE needs to take a preventive approach and not a reactive approach to sexual abuses in schools.

Shirley Woon Li Lin (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2016, with the headline 'Teach kids to speak up when threatened with sexual abuse'. Print Edition | Subscribe