SINGAPORE — A former teacher who subjected her stepson to physical and verbal abuse, calling him a “prostitute’s child” and tearing his Good Conduct Award, was jailed for seven months on Wednesday (7 October).
The 45-year-old, who is currently a tutor teaching children and teenagers, had slapped her stepson on the cheeks, hit his head with a mug, and hit his nose, drawing blood on each occasion.
Despite intervention by the authorities, she continued her abuse on the boy, then between 11 and 13, claiming that she was disciplining the child.
In sentencing the woman, District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt said, “Unfortunately in these cases, accused persons would generally say in mitigation that (the offences) were committed because they want to discipline the child.
“Such a reason, such an excuse, is untenable given the injuries, the violence involved and the acts that are committed, and especially in this case when the accused herself was a former teacher and educator.
“You of all people would know what disciplining a child would mean, yet you went beyond that to commit these offences.”
The Singaporean woman, who cannot be named due to a gag order, pleaded guilty to three charges of ill-treating a child on 1 September, with two similar charges taken into consideration for her sentencing.
Mitigating for the woman, her lawyer Amarjit Singh submitted testimonials from the parents of students she had tutored as well as a letter from the victim himself, who is now 15 years old.
Amarjit noted that the child has attained some measure of maturity and stated in his letter that he wishes to stay with the woman as she would be able to help him with his examinations due to her qualifications as a tutor. He has since forgiven his stepmother.
“My client wants to continue loving the child, staying together with her husband and own biological daughter, and planning for the future... A jail term would further alienate mother-child relationship,” the lawyer said, and requested for a fine as punishment.
However Deputy Public Prosector (DPP) Daphne Lim objected to a fine, noting that the woman had not pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and had prolonged the matter.
The prosecution told the court that the woman had reoffended despite intervention and abused the boy for a protracted period of two years.
“It was only (through) the victim’s relatives and school that the offences came to light, this is why deterrence is important,” said DPP Lim, noting how abuse was usually kept hidden from the public eye.
The DPP pointed out that forgiveness on the part of the victim was irrelevant in sentencing, as it was a private matter between the boy and his stepmother.
Abuse over two years
The abuse occurred as early as November 2016. On one occasion, the woman asked the boy to wash his own plate and told him, “You think I am your maid is it?”
While he washed his plate, the woman hit the back of his head with a ceramic mug, causing him to bleed.
She then brought him to wash the wound and informed her husband about the incident. The boy received treatment from a hospital however no police report was lodged, as the woman apologised and promised not to hit the boy again.
Despite her promise, she reoffended on 19 May 2017, slapping the boy on his face after he failed to recall an English test question. His paternal aunt noticed his injuries and lodged a police report, as it was not the first time the boy had been abused by his stepmother.
However the victim told the police that he loved his stepmother and did not wish for her to be charged in court.
Instead, the family was referred to the Kampong Kapor Family Service Centre, at the intervention of the Ministry of Social and Family Development. The family was placed on the “Safe and Strong Families” (SSF) programme in October 2017.
They did not complete the programme and the uncooperative woman insisted that the victim needed to be disciplined.
Between May 2017 and June 2018, she used demeaning insults on the victim, calling him a “prostitute’s child” and tearing up his Good Conduct Award, justifying that he did not deserve it.
She returned to inflicting violence on the child on 20 July 2018, after the boy lied about had cleaning up the house. She punched him on the nose, drawing blood.
Seven days later, when the woman was informed that her stepson failed to attend remedial classes in school, she became angry and slapped him face repeatedly. She also hit him with a bag, giving him bruises and cuts on his body.
This time, the boy’s teacher noticed his injuries at school and reported the matter to the vice-principal. The boy was taken to the hospital on 30 July 2018, where he was treated for scratches, bruises and abrasions.
For her offences under the Children and Young Persons Act, the woman could have been jailed up to four years and fined a maximum $4,000.
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