Bright and early every morning, we say goodbye to Truett and Kirsten as they head off to school for the next 6 hours, where they spend that time making friends and learning things in a structured environment, under the supervision of teachers, in whom we place a great deal of trust.
And everyday, when I pick them up from school, I’ll ask them the same question, “How was your day, guys?” Because 1) I’m interested to hear about their day and 2) If anything bad were to happen to them in those 6 hours where I’m not able to be physically present to watch out for them, I’d want to know immediately.
Most of the time, they’ll say “good” or “okay” or “boring”, which in view of point 2, is a good thing.
If you’ve been around the blog, you’d know that I don’t use this as a space to rant or to make a big deal of things, but there’s something that I’ve got to talk about and I’ve got to do it here.
My kids go to Gongshang Primary School. It’s a great school with great teachers. Truett has been blessed with really nice, caring teachers who go above and beyond their academic learning duties to ensure that the kids are nurtured and cared for. And Kirsten adores her form teacher, whom she describes as the funniest, kindest, best-in-the-universe teacher ever. From my interactions with her these past 6 months, I’m inclined to agree.
This is part of the post where things start to go very bad. I have a dear, dear friend whose kids also go to this school. Poh and Josephine are the sort of friends one is grateful to find in a lifetime and we’ve spent many fun hours babysitting their kids.
We’ve recently discovered that two of their kids have been unfortunate to be in classes where the teacher (same teacher for both kids) has been abusing the kids in her class both physically and emotionally for several months.
Abuse?? That’s serious.
Yes, it is.
1. The one with the kneeling.
On 2 separate occasions, students who were difficult in her class were made to come to the front and kneel down next to her desk in full view of the entire class as punishment.
Kneel. Seriously, KNEEL??!!
Why is this an acceptable form of punishment for a child??? Even if the teacher considered herself to be the goddess deity of divine discipline, there is no reason why kids should be made to kneel before her in remorse. This is wrong on so many levels, I can’t even.
2. The one with the SUMPAH.
Not as bad as kneeling, but one kid was made to put up 3 fingers and swear to the entire class that he would not be naughty ever again.
SUMPAH, ok, SUMPAH.
3. The one with the taunting and name calling.
One time, a kid who had myopia walked up to the front of the class to have a closer look at the board and got scolded for doing so. When he explained his poor eyesight, she said, “Too bad that you can’t see, go get new specs!”
Another kid did the same thing and was told, “Go back to your seat! Go get new specs, you don’t have money to buy one?!”
Kids that forgot to bring their science books 2 days in a row were called “retarded monkeys“. Classy.
4. The one with the throwing of things.
So far, she’s thrown a stapler, a water bottle, and many markers in the direction of kids whom she deemed was being naughty, with a marker actually hitting a child on the lip.
On this matter, upon investigation, her defence was that the marker slipped out of her hand and accidentally hit the child in the face. I’m no expert at throwing things, but in my entire life, whenever I’ve had things slip out of my hands accidentally, they’ve landed on myself or within 50cm of my body 100% of the time. 0% of the time has it flown across a room and hit someone else in the face. There was this one time when I flung a popcorn kernel at the husband and hit him in the face, but that time was completely on purpose.
Also, it doesn’t explain all the other times she threw things but missed. Surely objects can’t be accidentally flying out of her hand at students with such alarming frequency.
In fact, the students in the class all know that the teacher enjoys throwing things so they have to be alert and dodge when it happens, which is kind of like playing a terrible game of whack-a-mole where they have to be the mole.
5. The one with the humiliation.
On several occasions, she publicly called out a student whom she knew was a Christian, told him that he was a disgrace to God and should be ashamed of himself.
This was painful to hear this because we all make mistakes in life and kids (or adults!) should not be told that they are a disgrace to God.
What’s even more heartbreaking is that this kid went home after hearing this, held his Bible, went to the store room alone and sobbed. This makes me so sad and so mad at the same time.
6. The one with the threatening.
These incidents have been going on over a period of several months, and different parents have flagged up isolated cases to the school. Upon discovering this, the teacher intimidated the kids and warned them against complaining to their parents, along the lines of “I KNOW SOMEBODY COMPLAINED ABOUT ME. I WILL NOT SAY YOUR NAME BUT I KNOW WHO IT IS…”
I’m a big believer in innocent until proven guilty and a proper investigation has to happen, but as it stands, these incidents have been witnessed by many students in the class (plus a teaching assistant) and corroborated by several parents so as far as credibility goes, it seems very very unlikely that all these students would lie so convincingly about this one teacher.
Okay, so what’s been done?
Complaints against this teacher has been flagged up as early as March this year, with the form teacher and Science HOD being alerted about different incidents.
On Monday morning of this week, my friends met with the school principal to stage an intervention, and so far, this is the situation. The school has agreed to remove this teacher from teaching core subjects in these affected classes, but she will be reassigned to teach non-core subjects to other new victims. According to the principal, this is as much as they can do.
While it’s good that the school has acted swiftly, this resolution poses 2 problems.
1. The teacher will still be physically present in the school, where she will be able to ambush the students who told on her to exact revenge. She has proven that she is vindictive enough to threaten the kids and will go to great lengths to make sure they suffer, so all she needs is one opportunity with one kid alone in an empty classroom or hallway to abuse them as she pleases.
Sure, maybe this won’t happen and the kids will be safe, but if I know that there’s a possibility of danger being posed to my child every single day, I can’t possibly continue to put him in harm’s way.
2. Shuffling her to other classes doesn’t stop the abuse, it just gives her new victims to abuse. Perhaps she may be smarter about this in future, but the next time a child misbehaves or infuriates her in class, she’s just going repeat the abuse. With the knowledge that she has a track record of behaving in this manner, it’s our responsibility to protect these kids too.
While the investigations are ongoing, they’ve asked the principal to suspend the teacher from all interactions with students and reshuffle her to a desk job at MOE, but according to the principal, this is not possible.
They’ve also contacted MOE regarding this issue, only to be told that the teacher cannot be reassigned out of the school.
I don’t know.
I’m not here to name and shame. But I do know that kids are being abused by a teacher who is supposed to educate and nurture them, not humiliate them and abuse them. This isn’t right. And now that this teacher is facing disciplinary action, it’s not right that she’s still physically present in the school to exact her revenge when the opportunity presents itself.
It’s really hard to be in a position where you’re helpless, having to send your kids into an environment where they’re in harm’s way for 6 hours a day every single day, not being able to protect them.
All I know is that the kids’ well-being is paramount and we need to do whatever it takes to make things right.