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Sex for grades

Say No to Sex in School

The sex-for-grade scandal in NUS has finally settled, with the professor being sent to prison for nine months. His law teaching background made his transgression of educational codes of conduct a huge irony. With more and more reported incidents of sexual scandals happening in educational institutions, parents have the legitimate worry over the safety of their children in schools. While the NUS case is a transaction of mutual consent, most of the illegal sexual incidents between teachers and students are considered harassment, which is forcibly imposed upon students, often with adverse consequences to the growth of the children in the future.

Stress and greed

The NUS scandal reflects a fundamental problem in our educational system: high stress. Our university system is one of meritocracy, which is measured by one’s achievements such as grades. The stifling competition in one of Asia’s best law schools certainly makes the matter worse. The student had sex with her professor, expecting higher grades in return. Such a transaction also highlights the vulnerability of female students to sexual solicitation from male teachers, as those desperate for higher grades may be tempted to ‘sacrifice’ themselves as a convenient and fast way to boost their scores. With the liberalization of sex in society, sexual activity between two adults under mutual consent is no longer something immoral, but it may compromise some larger principles, such as fairness in education in this case. Hence, it may be a concern for parents with daughters in schools that their children do not fall into the trap of sex-for-grade transaction.

Threats from teachers

But a more worrying trend is that sexual scandals tend to happen among even younger schooling population. Such incidents often happen when teachers sexually harass their students and threaten them not to report to anyone, especially their parents. Children at young age tend to take such threats seriously, as teachers are looked up to as figures of authority. Many transgressors actually exploit such a docile mentality of students, repeatedly committing crimes until it is too obvious that they can’t hide from the interrogation of parents or police. But the damage has already been done. Financial penalty or even imprisonment can’t compensate the harm to the mental wellbeing of children during their formative ages.

Mom, what is sexual harassment?

Another factor that contributes to the rising harassment among young schooling population is lack of family education. Some children simply do not understand what constitutes sexual harassment, because parents may be unwilling to educate their children about such a topic, under the generally conservative Asian culture where sex is often a shunned topic for family discussions. Moreover, another trend is emerging in Singapore, as male students are molested by their male teachers. Same-sex harassment may be inconceivable to many older Singapore parents, who tend to neglect protection of their sons in schools or dismiss the complaints from their sons about such incidents. All these contribute to the rise of sexual scandals in schools.

Tips of protection

Given the rising prevalence of sexual harassment in school, it is important that parents play an active role to protect their loved ones in school. If you are a parent, please read on to find out how to protect your children.

  • Frist, parents should keep the communication open. This should be done throughout the children’s life, so that children know that when they are in trouble, parents will trust them and listen to them. Some routines, such as having daily family dinner or bedtime conversation, are effective to enhance communication.


  • Second, parents should take heed of some signs displayed by sexually troubled children: sudden drop in grades, fear of going to school, or unwillingness to share with parents about happenings in school. An observant parent should not dismiss such signs quickly.


  • Third, once parents are almost certain that something is wrong with their children, they can approach some of their children’s friends in school for confirmation or more information. With the modern technology, a Facebook message may lead to more clues to what is happening to their children.


  • Fourth, do not be afraid of offending people if the case turns out to be false. Approach counsellors or any figures of authority in school, who have the greatest concern for the school reputation and the wellbeing of students. Let them know your concern and request for their investigation.


  • Lastly, try to minimize the impact. As our aim is to ensure the wellbeing of students, parents should try to contain the situation and let as few people know about the incident as possible. Words of bully from fellow classmates may do second damage to a child’s psychological well-being.

Young students are the weaker group of society. They need to be protected. However, we are less willing to confront sexual harassment, simply because it involves sex. We should not allow perpetrators exploit such a mentality. If we are involved in such cases, let’s approach them with sensitivity, not with timidity.

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