Harsh punishment for a misguided dad

As a father, I feel for the hawker who, on learning that his nine-year-old daughter was bullied, slapped her classmate (Man who slapped daughter's classmate jailed after appeal; July 20).

His action is undoubtedly wrong and cannot be condoned.

But this is a case of misguided fatherly love.

The initial fine of $3,500 may seem an insubstantial compensation to a public prosecutor or judge, but it could be a significant chunk of income for a hawker.

The decision to place him in jail, which holds offenders of much more serious crimes, seems extreme.

Perhaps community service or counselling would have been better.

As he is the main breadwinner, sentencing him to jail deprives the family of his income.

Would (the girl) want to confide in her parents if she is bullied in future, since this case ended with her father being put into prison? Would other victims of school bullying go to their parents now?

More importantly, it could cause considerable psychological scarring to his daughter.

Would she want to confide in her parents if she is bullied in future, since this case ended with her father being put into prison? Would other victims of school bullying go to their parents now?

Since the incident did happen in a school, perhaps the school should review its security.

Teachers should be trained on how to deal with intrusions and not to allow such a situation to escalate to the point that a student gets slapped.

The alleged bully must also be counselled, as he was the cause of this unfortunate chain of events.

Benedict Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2017, with the headline 'Harsh punishment for a misguided dad'. Print Edition | Subscribe