Incorporating virtual reality to make training more interactive and fun for young trainee teachers is a good initiative (Making pre-school spaces safe using VR; Sept 4).
It is good to equip our young new teachers with the knowledge of how to check for potential hazards in the environment.
But, more than this,they need to be equipped with the ability to spot risk factors and symptoms of child abuse and neglect, including physical and sexual abuses.
Children’s psychological safety, well-being and protections ought to be given equal, if not more, attention.
It is important to be able to get a feel of how caregivers are treating the children both verbally and emotionally – whether the children are being subjected to threats to withdraw love or attentive caregiving, comments which belittle them, and name-calling.
Over time, such abuses create self-doubt in the child and a negative self-image which impacts the child’s psychological well-being and development.
Children thrive when they are in a socially- and emotionally-secure environment where there is age-appropriate structure and routine, and where they feel loved and respected.
All pre-school teachers should also be reminded to stand up for children.
Their top priority, above all relationships with parents, guardians and colleagues, should be the protection of children and ensuring no harm comes to them.
Rebecca Chan (Dr)