Relief PE teacher who bullied autistic pupil jailed 3 months, fined $3,000
During a physical education (PE) lesson, the relief PE teacher threw a ball at the Primary 4 pupil’s head three times.
In the same span of five minutes, he also threatened to place the nine-year-old boy inside a cage meant for storing PE equipment. Two days later, the 33-year-old Singaporean deliberately stepped on the boy’s foot and locked him in the PE room for about a minute.
Throughout the acts, the teacher was aware that the boy had autism spectrum disorder as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as the school had informed him of the boy’s conditions.
On Monday (8 October), the teacher was sentenced to three months’ jail and fined $3,000 after he pleaded guilty to one count of ill treating a child under the Children and Young Persons Act, and one count of wrongfully confining him.
Two counts of a similar nature were taken into consideration for his sentencing. The teacher cannot be named to protect the victim’s identity.
He was dismissed from the school on 25 May last year, five months after he started working there, and is currently unemployed.
Bullied in front of class
On 6 March last year, the teacher brought the boy’s class to the school’s indoor sports hall for a PE lesson. During the lesson, while the boy was standing in front of him, the teacher took a volleyball and threw it at the boy’s head.
He then walked away from the boy and addressed the rest of the class while the boy paced back and forth in front of his classmates.
About a minute later, as the boy stood with his back against the teacher, the teacher again threw the ball at his head before turning back to address the class. The teacher then bounced the ball on the floor a few times before throwing it at the boy’s head a third time, causing the boy to feel pain.
Later, the teacher lifted the cover of a metal cage that was used to store PE equipment and threatened to put the boy into it.
He also asked the boy’s classmates if they wanted to see the boy placed inside the cage, and several of the pupils raised their hands. The boy then quickly walked away from the cage as the teacher approached him.
While the teacher continued addressing the class, the boy did not participate in the lesson and played with a ball by himself at one side of the hall.
Some time later, the teacher grabbed the boy and brought him to the PE room. He scolded the boy and kept him in the room for about one and a half minutes.
During a PE lesson two days later, the teacher also deliberately stepped on the boy’s foot, trapping the latter. The teacher then dragged the boy into the PE room and locked him in there for about a minute.
Despite feeling hot, the boy did not dare switch on the PE room’s lights or fan as he feared being scolded again by the teacher. Even after the boy was let out of the room, the teacher still pushed him to the ground to make him sit with his classmates.
The boy later confided in his father about what had taken place and a police report was lodged on 29 April last year.
Teacher knew better
According to the prosecution, the school’s PE department head had told the teacher that the boy needed a bit more attention.
The teacher was also told that if his pupils wandered around or disobeyed his instructions, he should be firm and set out the rules or contact the department head for assistance.
However, the teacher had not done so and had even said that everything was fine when asked about his classes.
Afraid to go to school
The teacher caused the boy emotional injury and unnecessary pain and suffering by his actions, said Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Kelly Ho.
Following the incidents, the boy was afraid of going to school and returned only after being reassured that the teacher would no longer be there. He also cried in his sleep several times during the month of the incidents.
Even five months later, the boy still thought about how he had been treated and dreamt that the teacher might do it again, said the prosecution.
According to a Child Guidance Report dated August last year, the boy had been “very angry, screamed and hyperventilated” when recounting the incident to a consultant at the Institute of Mental Health.
DPP Ho asked for three months and six weeks’ jail, saying that the teacher – whose actions were captured by CCTV cameras in the school – had abused his position of trust.
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