Parents press pre-school to explain delay in reporting alleged molestation of toddler under its care


SINGAPORE: Parents at a pre-school where a two-year-girl under its care was allegedly molested are pressing the principal and management to explain delays in reporting the incident.

They said they have also not been given an explanation of how the employee accused, a non-teaching staff member, was purportedly allowed access to children.

On Dec 6, a Malaysian was charged in court with one count of using criminal force on a person below 14 years old with intent to outrage modesty.

The 59-year-old man, who is a Singapore permanent resident, cannot be named due to a gag order to protect the victim’s identity. The location of the pre-school was also redacted from court documents.

The prosecution said the man is believed to be involved in other similar cases.

The incident is said to have taken place on Nov 9. The school lodged a police report on Dec 2.

Police told The Straits Times that a suspect was arrested on Dec 4.

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), which regulates and develops the early childhood sector, said it was made aware of the case the next day.

In a statement to ST, the ECDA said it “expects all pre-schools to report all serious incidents that affect the safety of children within 24 hours”.

“If it is proven there is unreasonable delay in the reporting, we will take the pre-school to task,” it said.

According to the agency’s guidelines, employees who are deployed to work at pre-schools in operational or administrative roles cannot be involved in the care and education of children.

The pre-school offers classes from pre-nursery up to K2. One parent told ST that as young children are involved, the school has to be transparent and reassure parents that there are no safety lapses.

“They are just young children; toddlers are not able to understand what abuse is and cannot explain or tell us when something bad like that happens,” he added.

Several parents who have children in the pre-school had allegedly voiced concerns to the pre-school about non-teaching staff and the access they had with children there before the incident.

They claimed the pre-school did not address the issues raised.

On its website, ECDA encourages parents to approach their child’s teachers and principal to clarify matters.

But parents said when they approached the pre-school, they were told “we are sorry for what happened, but we cannot share more”.

The agency on Dec 6 said they have instructed the pre-school to “closely monitor its children and provide close supervision and guidance to its staff”.

It told ST that the alleged perpetrator, a non-teaching staff in the pre-school, has been dismissed.

“Before any staff can be deployed to our pre-schools, including non-teaching staff, (we) will check if they have any previous criminal offences involving children, or have been barred earlier from working in the pre-school sector,” said the agency.

ST had approached the principal of the pre-school on Dec 7, but the principal declined comment. - The Straits Times/ANN

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Singapore , molest , pre-school , court

   

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