SINGAPORE - A teacher at Pertapis Children's Home was jailed for three weeks on Tuesday for ill-treating children under his care.
Muhammad Abdul Gani, 27, meted out corporal punishment to eight children when it was not allowed unless a formal inquiry was made.
He had admitted to four of 10 charges of ill-treating four children, then aged four to 10, at the Kovan Road premises in 2012 and 2013.
Muhammad, who is no longer teaching at the home, had been employed as an Ustaz at the on-profit organisation since September 2012.
The home provides residential care to children from dysfunctional families, who are abused or neglected, beyond parental control or at-risk.
The offences came to light after an ex-employee disclosed that certain employees of the Home had been meting out inappropriate punishment to the children.
Among the things Muhammad did was to lift a seven-year-old boy off the ground by grabbing his head below his ears for not lining up properly at the prayer room.
Once in 2012 he punished a 10-year-old girl, for making noise during mealtime, by kicking the chair she was standing on and causing her to fall to the ground.
District Judge Christopher Goh said he was not convinced by the "aggravating'' factors highlighted by the prosecution. He said too much emphasis had been placed on the fact that the offences were hard to detect.
However he agreed that Muhammad's actions were a "gross breach of trust and authority'' by a religious teacher.
What made the case serious, he said, was that these were vulnerable children, sent to the home, specifically because they were vulnerable and at risk.
He felt that there was no malice on Muhammad's part and a short jail term would suffice.
Judge Goh said he accepted that it is not easy for staff in such homes as a huge burden and responsibility is placed on them.
"I do not envy them. Perhaps some of them may be unsuitable for such jobs,'' he said.
He also said the paramount interest must be the welfare of the children, even more so in this case where they are already disadvantaged, coming from dysfunctional families.
Where incidents such as these do occur, he said, the persons involved must be brought to task and, if found guilty, punished severely.
Muhammad could have been fined up to $4,000 and jailed for up to four years on each charge.