MOE wants new rules for not reporting abuses

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff — School administration or faculty members caught covering for predatory teachers who abuse students, may soon face fines of up to NT$150,000, and become unemployable in the industry for life, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced yesterday. With an increase in the cases of sexual offenses committed by teachers on campuses, the Humanstic Education Foundation and various legislators are pushing to penalize administrative “bystanders” who tamper with evidence or do nothing to report cases. The MOE said while it supported the proposal, sentences passed down in judicial court rulings sometimes take three to five years to come into effect; In the meantime, the accused often remains in the school environment as a continued threat. Instead, the ministry proposed to the Legislative Yuan that punishment be immediate, and could include punishing bystanders with demerits, removal from their jobs or fines of up to NT$150,000.

The MOE hoped to pass amendments related to the Gender Equity Education Act, the Teachers Law and the Statute Governing the Appointment of Educators in its meeting yesterday.

The amendments for punishing people who aid predatory teachers are divided in terms of severity — if the faculty or administrative bystander is found complicit in an isolated incident, he or she will receive a demerit on his record and receive a fine of between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000; if the investigation shows that the accused shielding or failing to report the offender results in further harm to the victim, or endangers more victims, the bystander will be immediately removed from his position and face a lifetime ban from employment in related fields. The punishment will be dealt with on an individual basis, the MOE explained, clarifying that it is only the person who fails to report the instance who will be punished. For example, if a teacher witnesses an act of abuse and alerts the principal, who in turn fails to contact authorities, it is the principal who will face punishment. The ministry said that a law drawing such a distinct line will prevent principals or faculty members from being sucked into the abusive teachers’ excuses or lies, an emotional tactic often used by predators. If passed, the law makes the case one of “either you walk or I do,” which will increase bystander’s responsibility. Statistics compiled by the Campus Security Report Center cited 1,167 cases of sexual assault or harassment reported within the past two years on campuses nationwide. Around 157 cases involved a school faculty member as a sexual offender, indicating an emergence of predatory teachers on campuses.