Saturday 4 July, 2020

Education Ministry responds after school sex photos seen online

Education Minister Anthony Garcia said the Ministry has put measures in place after photos showing minors committing sex acts while at school were allegedly spotted on a local website.

Garcia was responding to questions posed by Senator Paul Richards, who asked what is being done to ensure students do not engage in sex acts while at school, and what action was being taken against persons taking such photographs. 

He said any students found guilty of these acts will be suspended. 

"Students who are found guilty are suspended in conjunction with the appropriate psycho-social counselling and intervention by the Student Support Services Division."

"For severe cases, social workers, behavioural specialists and clinical psychologists are required," he said. 

Senator Paul asked whether public schools have a cell phone policy, to which Garcia replied that although cell phones are allowed in schools, they should not be camera cell phones. 

"(However) We can hardly find now, cellphones without camera facilities and that is one of the challenges we face now," he said.

Garcia added that the Ministry is having discussions to revise its cellphone policy. 

He added The Ministry of Education has a number of measures in place to mitigate minors engaging in sex acts while at school.

These include:

1. Reinforcement of the school code of conduct, highlighting the consequences of such actions to students

2. Strengthening the system of supervision of students

3. Universal intervention and information sessions from primary to secondary level, coordinated by the Student Support Services Division in several critical areas such as:

- Respect for self and others

- Understanding the Sexual Offences Act and the legal implications

- Decision-making in which skills are reinforced and different ways to say 'no'

- Child rights and protection 

- Self-development and self-esteem enhancement and values education.

4. A family life and health education programme which addresses sexuality and sexual health starting from Infant 1, where concepts such as 'good touch' 'appropriate touch' are introduced. 

Garcia added that all schools are guided by the National School Code of Conduct which promotes the responsible and ethical use of social media and requires that all interactions on social media be "respectful, age-appropriate, non-abusive and free from ignominious content". 

Opposition Senator Khadija Ameen then asked whether the Education Ministry would encourage sex education in schools.

Garcia, however, replied that no definite policy has been developed however the Ministry is having discussions with parents and religious bodies.

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: