Upskirt video case: School 'right' not to go straight to police, say parents

A person demonstrating how upskirt videos or photos were taken.
A person demonstrating how upskirt videos or photos were taken. PHOTO: ST FILE

Parents back school in its handling of case, but opinions split on expulsion of a student

A boys' school which caned seven students and expelled one for taking upskirt pictures and videos of teachers did the right thing by not going straight to the police, parents have told The Straits Times.

But opinions are split over whether the school, which has not been named to protect the six teachers' identities, should have expelled one of the students as he had been involved in a similar incident earlier.

Seven boys were found to have taken pictures and videos with their smartphones and 23 others received or shared the images.

The school's principal said the school received information about the images on Oct 5 and started an investigation. While the matter was handled internally, a police report was later made, though it is not known who made it.

A parent with a Secondary 2 son in the school said her child was very upset when he came home on Oct 19, after the seven main culprits in Sec 1 to Sec 3 were caned in front of their respective levels.

"I understand how it could have happened," said the 48-year-old sales director. "When dealing with young boys, you cannot hold them to the same standards that you would an adult. They might think that sharing pictures or videos is funny even if they know it's bad.

 

LACK OF THOUGHT

A lot of them don't think about the effect on women, or that what they are doing is disrespectful to women. Their (acts) of upskirt video-taking are usually a part of 'thrill seeking' or for their own emotional stress release.

DR MUNIDASA WINSLOW, senior consultant psychiatrist at Promises Healthcare in Novena Medical Centre, who has met many young people and adults who have taken upskirt videos.

"The boys didn't know how serious it was and it gave us an opportunity to talk to our children about why it's wrong."

While she approved of the expulsion, given that the student had been given a second chance by the school, she was disappointed that someone had made a police report.

According to a report in The New Paper, the teachers have spoken to the culprits and forgiven them. Parents told The Straits Times that their children said a prayer and reflection session was held before the caning.

"I think that (going to the police) was unnecessary," said the sales director. "We all make mistakes. As a parent, I can understand how it could have happened."

A 44-year-old counsellor, who has two sons in the school and wished to remain anonymous, felt the same. "These boys are young and need to be handled sensitively," she said, adding that she wished the school had not expelled the boy. "I would have liked the boy to have stayed on but with conditions like going for counselling."

Mr Gavin Foo, 39, who works in private equity and has a six-year- old daughter, said: "Boys (at those ages) are always up to some degree of cheekiness. They crossed the line by sharing the upskirt images, but it still doesn't warrant expulsion."

Dr Carol Balhetchet, clinical psychologist and senior director of youth services at the Singapore Children's Society, said expelling the teenager does little to solve the problem and suggested that he needed counselling and therapy.

"He's going to go somewhere else and do the same thing," she said. "You're not solving the problem; you're postponing it. (Expelling) him is just transferring the problem to someone else. If he's doing it just to gain confidence within the peer group, then he needs to find alternatives to gain confidence."

Dr Munidasa Winslow, senior consultant psychiatrist at Promises Healthcare in Novena Medical Centre, has met many young people and adults who have taken upskirt videos. "A lot of them don't think about the effect on women, or that what they are doing is disrespectful to women. Their (acts) of upskirt video-taking are usually a part of 'thrill seeking' or for their own emotional stress release."

But the expert thought the school was right to expel the boy as it was his second such offence. "The school probably did an appropriate job of managing things - remember, they know a lot more than we do about what actually happened."

A school spokesman said it takes a serious view of misconduct and those involved have been disciplined and are undergoing counselling.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2016, with the headline 'Upskirt video case: School 'right' not to go straight to police'. Print Edition | Subscribe