GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A girl, now in her early teens, has been sending nude pictures of herself to her school teacher, who is believed to have groomed her over the past three years.
Her mother found out what was going on after she saw several of the nude pictures on the teenager's phone early this year.
But what really irks Women's Centre for Change executive director Loh Cheng Kooi was that the teacher was still working when she checked up on the case last month.
"Any teacher suspected of sexual abuse should be suspended from work immediately pending an investigation by the authorities.
"It seems that the teacher had been grooming the girl for a few years before it came to the parents' attention," she told reporters after a presentation at the Penang Women Development Corporation's roundtable on Protection Of Children In Malaysia, at Komtar on Monday (June 27).
Ms Loh said the teacher had purportedly admitted to the offence when he was called in to explain, but no action was taken by the state education department.
"He should be sacked immediately upon admitting to the crime and the investigation should be conducted quickly.
"A teacher suspected of child sexual abuse must be kept away from students but this is not the case here," Ms Loh said.
Also at the discussion were State Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Chong Eng, Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim, Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching and Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin.
Ms Loh said the Education Ministry should have a standard operating procedure when it comes to child sexual abuse in schools.
She said that currently, a teacher facing such an allegation would still be allowed to work, pending an investigation by the authorities.
"Transferring the teacher to another school will not solve the problem as it is like transferring the problem somewhere else," she added.
Ms Loh claimed the state education department was informed of the incident and that the parents were told that the department would leave the matter to the police if they had lodged a report.
She said the parents did not lodge a police report for fear that the trauma could negatively affect their daughter.
"It took a while for the girl to recover because she felt it was not the teacher's fault, since she was the one who sent the pictures.
"We had to convince the girl that what the teacher did was wrong," said Ms Loh.
Penang Education Department director Shaari Osman said that his department had received a complaint letter only last week about the matter.
He said the investigation was still going on and that initial findings showed that the teacher had also been giving the girl tuition.