Adjunct teacher jailed for assaulting boy, 10, whom he accused of bullying his son

SINGAPORE - A secondary school adjunct teacher confronted a 10-year-old boy whom he accused of bullying his son, and shoved him against a wall.

The boy complained of chest pain and a small fracture to one of his ribs was found after an X-ray at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

Tan Chin Tai, 43, who also works at a tuition centre, pleaded guilty to an assault charge on Monday (April 29) and was sentenced to seven weeks' jail.

Flexi-adjunct teachers are engaged directly by schools to fill teaching vacancies on a short-term basis, and Tan is registered as a flexi-adjunct teacher with the Ministry of Education (MOE).

But he is not employed by any MOE school currently, and MOE said on Tuesday (April 30) morning that his status is under review.

The injured boy was a classmate of Tan's son and cannot be named owing to a gag order to protect his identity.

After lessons ended on July 7, 2017, the boy was walking towards a gate at his school, which is in the northern part of Singapore, when Tan confronted him.

 
 
 

He grabbed the boy's bag handle, causing him to move backwards, and pushed him to a nearby rubbish shed.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Weiming said: "The victim was pushed onto a wall while the accused scolded the victim, saying: 'Just because you are bigger in size, you can bully others'. The accused added: 'Since you can bully my son, I can bully you'."

The victim sought medical treatment at around 9.30pm that day and was discharged about two hours later.

Tan was represented by lawyers Josephus Tan and Cory Wong from Invictus Law Corporation.

On Monday, Mr Wong pleaded for their client to be fined the maximum $5,000 or given not more than four weeks' jail. He also told the court that the victim had bullied Tan's son every day since early 2017.

The lawyer said that the boy would push Tan's son and abuse him with vulgarities.

Mr Wong added: "Mr Tan had previously gone to the relevant school teacher to report the bullying but, alas, nothing concrete had materialised from his reports.

"Mr Tan was instead told that the victim had anger management issues, and felt that his concerns were being brushed aside. True enough, the school remained ineffective in doing anything to stop the bullying."

The lawyer told District Judge Christopher Tan that his client's offence was not premeditated and that he had gone to the primary school to pick his son up when he spotted the alleged bully.

Mr Wong said: "Near the school gate, Mr Tan thus tried to verbally engage with the victim but the victim very cockily ignored him.

"In the heat of the moment, and being a loving father who would staunchly protect his son's interests, the above drove Mr Tan to act out of character."

For assault, Tan could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.